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BEIRUT BOOK FAIR

Brawl breaks out at Beirut Book Fair after visitors try to remove Qassem Soleimani poster

Brawl breaks out at Beirut Book Fair after visitors try to remove Qassem Soleimani poster

The controversial poster of Qassem Soleimani at the Beirut Book Fair. (Credit: @JoyceJ010)

BEIRUT — A scuffle broke out this morning at the Beirut International and Arab Book Fair after a visitor attacked a poster of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Solaimani, who was assassinated in 2020.

Here’s what we know:

    • A video that circulated heavily on social media Monday only showed the brawl. However, a longer, unedited video, shows a group of people charging towards a stand chanting, "Beirut is free, Iran out” after which one man, later identified as Shafiq Badr, started punching a poster of Soleimani. Initially people ask him to leave calmly with one man saying “I am Sunni and I won’t stand for this.”

    • Fadi Tamim, co-organizer of the fair and its public relations officer, confirmed to L’Orient Today that this is the version of events as relayed to him; however,he added that he was not present at the fair when they unfolded.

    • Former Internal Security Forces chief and justice minister Ashraf Rifi commented on Twitter that having Qassem Soleimani’s image at the book fair in Beirut is “a provocation to the Lebanese people who were stung by the Iranian occupation,” and that whoever put it “wants to bully the Lebanese, but the youth of Lebanon are stronger than this arrogance.”

   • Rifi also lent his support to “activist” Shafiq Badr, who, according to local Lebanese news station MTV, was attacked, together with Nelly Kandil, after they protested against pictures of Soleimani, which were placed in front of some of the exhibition’s stands.

   • MTV also reported around 2 p.m. that there were renewed tensions at the fair “due to stands of Soleimani's photos and books" amid the presence of riot police.

   • While many on social media are now referring to the book fair as being “controlled by Iran” or, in one case, as a “Persian house of horrors,” the organization of the fair is in hands of the Arab Cultural Club, which is co-chaired by Salwa Sanioura Baasiri, the sister of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Sanioura Bassiri is also the director-general of the Rafik Hariri Foundation.

   • The Al Jadeed television station reported around 3 p.m. that "the fair had reopened its doors" after writing an hour earlier that the fair’s management was preparing to close the exhibition today "due to problems."


Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect that, rather than requests being made for the Solaimani poster to be taken down, someone punched the poster and that an earlier embedded Annahar tweet showing the video did not adequately illustrate what happened as the beginning was edited out. 


BEIRUT — A scuffle broke out this morning at the Beirut International and Arab Book Fair after a visitor attacked a poster of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Solaimani, who was assassinated in 2020.Here’s what we know:    • A video that circulated heavily on social media Monday only showed the brawl. However, a longer, unedited video, shows a group of people charging...