Lebanon: Fear, Resentment Among Displaced Syrians over Incitement Campaigns

Wednesday, 19 June, 2019 - 07:00 -

Lebanon: Fear, Resentment Among Displaced Syrians over Incitement Campaigns

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FILE - A Syrian refugee child works with his father in the south of Sidon, southern Lebanon, April 30, 2014. Reuters
Beirut - Sanaa el-Jack
The crisis associated with the Syrian presence in Lebanon has intensified, with the removal of camps in some areas, the closure of stores owned or managed by Syrians, and the recent measures by the minister of Labor, Kamil Abu Sleiman, to organize “foreign labor”, in parallel with the ongoing campaign by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who does not miss any opportunity to call for the return of the displaced to their country.
 
“All the Lebanese want the Syrians to return to their country,” MP Paula Yacoubian told Asharq Al-Awsat. “But there are those who follow the policy of incitement to cover up the big failure to manage the state’s affairs.”
 
Yacoubian emphasized that the government should work hard and avoid populist slogans, “because the issue of the Syrian refugees is bigger than Lebanon and those who launch such campaigns.”
 
While views on dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis are very contradictory, which prompted Lebanese and Syrian activists to demonstrate “against the hate speech”, they increased fear and resentment among the refugees.
 
According to a Syrian refugee interviewed by Asharq Al-Awsat, the attack on the Syrian presence in Lebanon is mainly “because refugees belong to the Sunni community, which they consider as a demon that threatens the world.”
 
Campaigns to control the foreign labor have prompted some activists on social media to call for a “dignity strike” that would boycott Lebanese merchants and vital economic sectors in Lebanon for three days starting Thursday.
 
But the director of research at the Issam Fares Center for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, Dr. Nasser Yassin, told Asharq Al-Awsat that this campaign was doubtful.
 
He noted that Syrians who work within civil society groups were not aware of it.

“Such movements increase sensitivity between the refugees and the Lebanese in general. More importantly, campaigns of hatred and racism are dangerous, whether they come from the Syrians or the Lebanese,” he stressed.

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