Lebanese youths have set fire to France’s national flag in a show of anger at the projection of offensive cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) onto government buildings in the European country.
They torched the flag during a protest outside the French embassy in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Friday.
The demonstration came two days after the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), published by the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, were displayed onto town halls in Montpellier and Toulouse for several hours.
The measure was part of a tribute to history teacher Samuel Paty, who raised controversy and provoked outrage by showing Charlie Hebdo’s insulting sketches to his students.
He was murdered outside his school in a Paris suburb on October 16 by an 18-year-old assailant, identified as Chechen Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police soon after the killing.
Since then, French police have raided Muslim houses and mosques and arrested more than a dozen individuals as part of an investigation into the incident.
President Emmanuel Macron described Paty as a “quiet hero” and posthumously awarded him the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian honor.
The Lebanese youths are also angry with Macron’s interference in the domestic affairs of their homeland, which gained independence from the French colonial rule more than seven decades ago.
Macron has visited Lebanon twice since the August 4 explosion in the port of Beirut that killed nearly 200 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
During the trips, he called for a “new political pact” among Lebanese political factions and proposed a roadmap to authorities to unlock billions of dollars in funds from the international community.
In a meeting with President Michel Aoun, Macron threatened Lebanese leaders with sanctions if they did not submit to reforms and a “political change,” Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported.
On Thursday, Aoun tapped Saad Hariri, the embattled former prime minister who stepped down late last year amid protests, to again try to form a new government that can lift the country out of its worst economic crisis in decades.
Hariri vowed to form “a cabinet of non-politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap.”
“I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out,” he added, calling it the country’s “only and last chance.”