Lebanon: Dozens in Beirut protest plans to crackdown on critics of President Aoun

Dozens of protesters gathered near Beirut's Justice Palace on Wednesday, to denounce a crackdown on critics of Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Protesters symbolically tied their hands with rope and some covered their mouth with tape to denounce threats to freedom of speech, after the Lebanese President threatened to prosecute those who would use his photos in protests or on social media or be deemed to insult him. «All officials working in public affairs must accept criticism. This thing is self-evident and it is forbidden to touch it,» one protester said. «We have nothing left in this country other than the freedom to express opinions.» Insulting the president is a crime punishable by Lebanese law that could result in imprisonment for two years. Protests against allegations of government corruption broke out last year, as Lebanon was facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with soaring unemployment and the ongoing currency crisis that rapidly depleted the value of the local currency. The lockdown implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic has added further pressure on the struggling Lebanese economy, prompting a new wave of protests despite social distancing restrictions.

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