The installation of many billboards showing slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in the predominantly Iran-backed Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon has sparked criticism by Lebanese who took to social media to protest Iran’s influence in the country.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Iran’s top general and a senior Iraqi militia leader in a US drone strike in Iraq. Iran heavily backs and supports the Hezbollah Shia militant group in Lebanon.
Former Minister of Administrative Reform May Chidiac asked those who posted the pictures of Soleimani to “stop distorting the identity of Lebanon.”
“What happened to the statues of Assad following the withdrawal of the Syrian occupation? The lesson is for those who consider Lebanon an Iranian province. Stop distorting the identity of the country and stop its involvement in wars. Statues and pictures of Soleimani and al-Mohandes, and naming the suburb roads, the airport road, and the southern roads with the name of Khomeini will turn against you,” Chidiac said.
Activist Lea Dagher tweeted: “Only in my car, I don’t see a picture of Qassem Soleimani, [is this] Lebanon or Iran?”
On the eve of Soleimani’s assassination anniversary, the southern Lebanese village of Arabsalim erected a model depicting the moment a US drone missile struck Soleimani’s SUV on its way out of Baghdad’s airport.
“Tehran is 1,789 km away from Arabsalim,” Middle East political researcher Bachar al-Halabi added.
On the eve of Qassem Soleimani’s assassination anniversary, Arabsalim—a Lebanese southern village, erects a model depicting the moment Soleimani’s SUV was hit by a US drone missile on its way out of Baghdad’s airport.#Tehran is 1789km away from Arabsalim. pic.twitter.com/YQ7XQBuYOs— Bachar EL-Halabi | بشار الحلبي (@Bacharelhalabi) January 1, 2021
Dima Sadek, a Lebanese journalist, posted a picture of a Soleimani statue that was set to be mounted in the suburbs of Beirut in the next several days.
Sadek said the day would come when “we will destroy this idol with our own hands as the idols of tyrants have been destroyed before it.”
سيأتي يوم سنحطم فيه هذا الصنم بأيدينا كما تحطمت أصنام الطغاة قبله. pic.twitter.com/bLJdyLGxq9— Dima ديما صادق (@DimaSadek) January 3, 2021
Another Twitter user said that it would have been more “appropriate and honorable” to post photos of the Lebanese victims of the Beirut Port explosion, who died as a result of corruption instead of uploading pictures of the “child killer” Qassem Soleimani.
Luna Safwan tweeted pictures from Lebanon’s Airport highway with new Soleimani pictures on “every possible corner.”
“To some, he was a great leader. To others, he was a mass murderer, so how do you compromise and make a country livable and bearable, to both sides?” Safwan wrote.
#Lebanon's Airport highway with new Qassem Souleimani pictures on every possible corner - to some he was a great leader, to others, he was a mass murderer, so how do you compromise and make a country livable & bearable, to both sides? (📸 Nabil Ismail) pic.twitter.com/ymsU4IGFLm— Luna Safwan - لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) January 3, 2021