The arrest of a well-known activist in the Beirut port explosion case, William Noun has been met with widespread protests across Lebanon and political condemnation.
According to media reports, Noun is accused of threatening to “blow up the Justice Palace with dynamite” during a protest. Following his arrest, relatives of the port blast victims staged a sit-in outside the State Security department located in Beirut where Noun is said to be held.
MPs Melhem Khalaf, Razi al-Hajj and Jihad Pakradouni also joined the sit-in along with a number of lawyers before entering the dept. to follow up on the case.
Fighting is said to have broken out between protesters and security forces as demonstrators blocked a road as well as several highways in Beirut. According to media reports, more protests are said to be scheduled for today.
William Noun’s brother Joe Noun was a firefighter who was killed while extinguishing the massive fire that led to the Beirut port blast in August 2020 when over 2,500 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded. Noun also lost his cousin and uncle who were in another fire truck that had been dispatched to the port blast. Noun subsequently became the spokesperson for the families of the Beirut port blast victims and has been vocal in condemning Lebanon’s judges for being too weak. Noun has also demanded that the investigation into the port blast be internationalised as the only way for the victims to get justice.
Lebanon’s investigation into the port explosion case has been blocked for several months by Lebanon’s political groups. The case, which seeks to uncover responsibility for the blast that killed 244 people has been a point of contention in Lebanon with many blaming government corruption. As a result, protests have been escalating on a daily basis in Lebanon as families and victims seek justice and are not willing to accept any further delays in the investigation.