French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in solidarity with people of Lebanon following the massive explosion in its capital. It did not go over well and just reminded critics of the troubled history the two countries share.
On Thursday Macron became the first international leader to visit Beirut, which was literally“devastated” by the blast in the city’s port on Tuesday, as local authorities put it. It was supposed to be a gesture of goodwill and the beginning of an international aid effort. The French leader himself said that he aims to “organize European cooperation and, more broadly, international cooperation.”
“Lebanon is not alone,” Macron tweeted in both Arabic, and French – the two main languages of the country.
But not everyone online could take the sentiment seriously, especially coming from Macron. It was pointed out that France has for a long time been close with Israel, and is still selling weapons to the country, which had a gruesome war with Lebanon in 2006.
Some called out hypocrisy in Macron’s supposedly heartfelt message on Twitter, reminding of his ongoing support for Israel “which bombed Lebanon several times.”
The worst colonialism in the world is the French colonialism, and every bad colonialism Lebanon is fine without France pic.twitter.com/0aNCOwmVSn
– Ahmed Zeyam (@AhmedZeyam) August 6, 2020
France’s colonial rule over Lebanon also came up in the comments to Macron’s tweet. It highly favored the local Christian minority over the Muslim majority, and lasted until 1944, creating further divisions in the society.
There were those, however, who seemed pleased with Macron’s solidarity gestures, saying that the Lebanese people “need international support.”
Some went as far as to suggest that Lebanon should “again [be] placed under French mandate,” since the current government is perceived to have failed by allowing the explosion to happen. This idea gained so much traction that it was turned into a petition and fifty-five thousand people ended up signing it.
While in Beirut, Macron was surrounded by a crowd of anti-government protesters. They called for “revolution” and pleaded with the French president to financially aid their nation.
Macron mobbed in Beirut. Down with the regime, locals chanted, and called for Revolution while declaiming Lebanon’s President Aoun. pic.twitter.com/4ntkZToUFj
Quentin Sommerville @sommervilletv August 6, 2020
The Beirut explosion killed at least 135 people, injured 5,000 and left 300,000 homeless, according to officials. In the aftermath of the incident, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised that those responsible for the explosion would “pay the price.” The blast allegedly took place after 2,750 tons of Ammonium Nitrate were accidentally set alight. The enormous cache of explosive fertilizer had been stored in a port warehouse for six years with apparently little regard for safety.
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