BEIRUT — Nisrine Chahine, a teacher-unionist previously accused of defamation against caretaker Education Minister Abbas Halabi was questioned and arrested for a few hours on Thursday by orders of Court of Cassation Attorney General Ghassan Oueidat, her lawyer Rafic Ghraizi told L'Orient-Le Jour.
In the evening, a family member confirmed that she was released.
Chahine, a public education contract worker involved in the trade union struggle, appeared for several hours on Thursday morning before the criminal investigation office at the Beirut courthouse, following a defamation complaint lodged against her by Halabi over a Facebook post.
In the post, dated March 29, the teacher had criticized Halabi and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, accusing them, among other things, of taking bribes and hiring 800 teachers through clientelist practices.
According to Ghraizi, Chahine was arrested in the early afternoon and incarcerated in the courthouse detention center, after refusing to take down her post.
A source close to Halabi, who requested anonymity, said only: "We are waiting for justice to take its course."
'Chaos in public schools'
On Thursday morning, around 20 public school teachers demonstrated outside the courthouse in support of their colleague.
"Her crime is that she points the finger at corruption in the Education Ministry and denounces the chaos in public schools," Hoda Hatoum, a public school teacher present at the demonstration, told L'Orient-Le Jour.
Amal Abi Faraj, another teacher who came to support Nisrine Chahine, expressed her "rejection of the minister's actions."
"He wants to remove her [from her position] because she speaks the truth," she said.
Halabi dismissed the teacher at the end of 2022, but the State Council suspended this controversial decision.
Chahine's dismissal after 11 years of service in the public sector had been justified by the fact that her services were no longer needed, but it had been denounced by part of the teaching staff and by civil society, as she was known for her closeness to popular protest and her union involvement.
In early 2023, public school teachers went on strike for several weeks to demand improved working conditions amid Lebanon's economic collapse.