Five children were arrested in Lebanon on Saturday after tearing down a poster of President Michel Aoun in the Hammana municipality, several local news stations reported.
All of the boys were under the age of 18.
Several social media users took to Twitter to express their outrage, many pointing out that the government is “targeting children instead of corrupt politicians.” Many shared videos of the boys’ parents waiting outside of the police station, calling on Lebanese people to stage a sit-in in front of the station until the boys are released.
تبين أن بلدية حمانا هي التي اوقفت الاطفال الساعة ٥ بعد الظهر وتركتهم لغاية الساعة ٨ المسا لتسلمهم بدها الى مخابرات الجيش التي بدورها سلمتهم لمخفر حمانا الساعة ١٠.٥٠ المسا باشارة القاضي مايا كنعان ليعاد اطلاق سراحهم الساعة ٢.١٠ صباحاً باشارة القاضي سامر ليشع. ٨ ساعات توقيف !! pic.twitter.com/WyRQhiN2Q1— joemaalouf جو معلوف (@joemaalouftv) November 24, 2019
Pictures reportedly showing three of the arrested boys also circulated on social media, with many expressing their frustration after a judge purportedly ordered for them to be kept at the station overnight.
"Down with the regime that arrests children," said one user.
"When a 12-year-old child manages to shake the state's throne, you know the state is corrupt," another wrote.
A surveillance video was also widely shared online, reportedly showing the children tearing down the poster.
According to Al-Jadeed TV, after nine hours in detention, the children were released at 2:10 a.m. local time.
A statement from the Lebanese army read that they wanted to “clarify that intelligence did not arrest the boys, but received them from the municipality after they were arrested by its police which was doing frequent patrols after a series of incidents witnessed in the area including unidentified persons burning the Ogero building, and an attempt to burn the Free Patriotic Movement’s center.”
Nationwide protests in Lebanon have been ongoing for over a month, fueled by perceptions of corruption among the sectarian politicians who have governed Lebanon for decades and are blamed for leading the country into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.