10,000 get through government cordon to protest in Lebanon

AP via Washington Post:

Defying a ban on protests, about 10,000 people demonstrated against Syrian interference in Lebanon on Monday, as opposition lawmakers sought to bring down the pro-Damascus government two weeks after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Hundreds of soldiers and police blocked off Beirut's central Martyrs' Square, but there was no violence, even as more and more protesters managed to evade the cordon and join the demonstration.

Protest leaders urged their followers not to provoke the security forces, who refrained from trying to disperse the crowd.

Opposition legislators sought to bring down the pro-Syrian government of Prime Minister Omar Karami in Monday's confidence debate. It was the first time the legislature discussed the Feb. 14 assassination of Hariri, who was killed with 16 other people in a massive bomb blast.

"The assembly seeks answers to one question: 'Who killed Rafik Hariri?'" parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri said as he opened the debate, calling on the government to expedite its investigation.

Many Lebanese say Karami's administration and Syria were behind the attack -- a charge both governments deny.

It is surprising how little attention this demonstration has received, This AP story was buried inthe Post. Other papers buried it so deep, it was not visable on their home page. Would an anti goverment protest of this size in Baghdad be so ignored?


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