Lebanese people have taken to the social media to vent their anger at French President Emmanuel Macron over his uninvited visit to Lebanon and his “colonial mentality” by calling for a new political pact and reportedly threatening the country’s leaders.
Macron made the visit to Lebanese capital of Beirut on Thursday after a cataclysmic explosion killed 145 people and injured more than 5,000 others.
The deadly incident also left at least 300,000 without habitable homes, hammering a nation already beset by US-instigated economic crises.
During the snap visit, the French president called for an international inquiry into the devastating blast that generated a seismic shock felt across the region.
Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network said Macron, in a meeting with President Michel Aoun, threatened Lebanese leaders with sanctions if they do not submit to reforms and a “political change”.
Macron also called for a “new political pact” among Lebanese political factions and said he had proposed a roadmap to the Lebanese authorities to unlock billions of dollars in funds from the international community, and that he would return to Lebanon in September to follow up.
“I will be back on September 1, and if they can’t do it, I’ll take my political responsibility” toward Lebanon, said Macron in remarks more sounding like those about a protectorate.
Macron’s remarks sparked a swift backlash, with many Twitter users denouncing what they deemed as interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon, which gained independence from the French colonial rule more than seven decades ago.
French cities are in chaos and now Macron is going to take care of business in Lebanon?
— Marc (@o_liuw) August 6, 2020
To defend everything is to defend nothing. #Macron is trying hard to be everything to everyone. Never visited #Lebanon before today and now he is playing pater noster in #Beirut? His political responsability was to be supportive back in 2017/2018.
— Fares Meherzi (@25Juillet_) August 6, 2020
He is chasing contracts, the French always do this.
— Jed Stone (@Jedstonepompey) August 6, 2020
I can’t comment on #Macron‘s visit to #Lebanon from a Lebanese perspective, but as a French citizen, it’s interesting to see Macron celebrating Lebanese citizens protesting their government while at home riot cops are sent to tear gas French citizens protesting his own.
— Rim-Sarah Alouane (@RimSarah) August 6, 2020
He can’t take care of what’s happening in France but he will take care of Lebanon…
— Fred73 (@ftrib) August 6, 2020
Do we need to become a French colony again?! Most of this is happening to us because of a domino affect that started with the Turks and the French. We need Lebanese people who truly care about Lebanon to run us. Not any outside influence
— Amanda Hamze 🇱🇧 (@AmandaHamze) August 6, 2020
Happily enough, since he can’t accomplish anything in his own country I doubt this will go further than words.
— FlowerPower ദേവത (@FlowerPowaaaaaa) August 6, 2020
Don’t worry, everything he said is just a “one man show” for the camera. He doesn’t care at all about lebaneses and he won’t lift a finger for them.
— Citoyen Lambda (@CitoyenLambda44) August 6, 2020
I ask our Lebanese sovereignist friends to be wary of the words of #Macron, and to take a look at the situation in France before applauding his words.This Opportunist Affairist is on the lookout for Business. Its motto the misfortune of some makes the happiness of others.
— Tomer René Bayssière (@Tomer_bayssiere) August 6, 2020
I’m French and I’m so ashamed !
Please, don’t think French people are like him.
— Martin Parks (@Pti_Kiwi) August 6, 2020
Lebanon is not a french colony!
— Gavin (@Gavin24386855) August 6, 2020
The French Mandate is BACK?!!
— عمر (@kki9p_) August 6, 2020
Yeah, I don’t think Lebanon needs France to interfere. It has never worked.
— Ali (@lebaeneseali) August 6, 2020
A political pact? I would be very wary of this if I was living in Lebanon.
— Bitter old cat lady 🌈 (@bittroldcatlady) August 6, 2020
France sees Lebanon as its colony
This is how the president should have been received!
— لیا آبنوس_حساب جدید (@lieaEbony) August 6, 2020
Macron’s remarks provoke unrest
Macron’s remarks at a time of shock and anger among the traumatized nation also provoked protests in central Beirut, where security forces fired tear gas to disperse dozens of demonstrators.
The protesters marched on the roads leading to the government building and the parliament. They pelted security forces with stones and set tires on fire, shouting against the political elite.
Some in the small protest were wounded, the National News Agency reported.
The powerful explosion on Tuesday took place in port warehouses that stored highly explosive material near central Beirut. Video footage captured a shockwave travelling fast across hundreds of meters, essentially flattening the area.
Dozens of people are still missing, and thousands of people have been displaced as a result of the colossal blast, which leveled the whole port and a large section of central Beirut and turned successive apartment blocks into masses of debris and twisted metal.
A large supply of confiscated explosive material that had been stored in a warehouse at the city’s port for the past six years is suspected to have caused the massive explosion, the biggest to ever hit the Middle East, but investigators have only just started to look into what happened.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced three days of national mourning for the victims of the deadly incident and declared a state of emergency across the country for two weeks.
Diab has pledged that those responsible for the massive blast in Beirut would be held to account, calling for international assistance to help the country, which is already staggering from economic meltdown and a surge in coronavirus cases.