Middle EastTop StoriesWorld

Backlash after street named for Hariri assassin

BEIRUT: A picture taken yesterday shows a street in the Ghobeiry neighborhood of southern Beirut named after top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine. – AFP

BEIRUT: Politics is playing out in a street of the Lebanese capital, with the naming of a road after a Hezbollah commander accused of masterminding the assassination of prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The backlash comes just days after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a UN-backed court investigating the 2005 car bomb that killed Hariri and 22 others, began hearing closing arguments. The municipality of Ghobeiry, south of Beirut, recently renamed a street leading up to the Rafiq Hariri National Hospital after one of his accused assassins.

Photographs spread across social media this week depicting “the Martyr Mustafa Baddredine Street,” in honor of a leading member of the Hezbollah militant movement who was killed fighting in Syria in 2016. Badreddine is believed to be the alleged mastermind of the blast that killed Hariri, and was indicted by the tribunal but never tried. Reacting to the street name, his son and current Prime Minister Saad Hariri said yesterday: “This is civil strife, par excellence, at a time when we’re talking about eliminating discord.”

Ghobeiry lies in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, where support for Hezbollah is strong. The Ghobeiry municipality says it submitted a request to the interior ministry one year ago to rename the street as is required by law, but that the lack of a response from the ministry within a month indicated tacit approval. It insists its decision was “legal, normal, and legitimate”. The interior ministry announced on Monday it rejected the municipality honoring “one of the main people accused” of killing Hariri. It said it would demand the street signs be removed. They were still up yesterday, according to an AFP photographer.

Backers of Hezbollah were posting on Twitter in support of the Ghobeiry municipality, with the Arabic hashtag “Badreddine, even your name terrorizes them”. Opponents said the move was a “provocation”, 13 years after Hariri’s assassination. “This is just throwing salt on the wound,” one user said. Saad Hariri was reappointed prime minister in May for a third term, but has failed so far to pull together a cabinet of ministers. Despite prosecutors pointing the finger at Hezbollah for his father’s killing, Hariri has repeatedly insisted that Lebanon’s interest lies in consensus, not conflict. Hezbollah has denied involvement in Rafiq’s assassination and has slammed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as illegitimate. – AFP

Back to top button