Lebanese took to social media platforms to express their discontent and frustration with the unveiling of a Qassem Soleimani monument in the Hezbollah district of Ghobeiry on Tuesday.
“New Qassem Sulaimani statue in #Lebanon — with Lebanese flags in the background, useful to remind us where we are. Whats next? Sulaimani stamps?” wrote journalist Luna Safwan, who was the subject of a targeted campaign by Hezbollah last year.
Another user, Wael Atallah, opposed the step, calling it “a cultural aggression being imposed on Lebanon,” which left the Lebanese people “violated and powerless.”
Supporters of the Iran-backed Hezbollah unveiled the statue of the Iranian general a year after he was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq.
Hezbollah supporters gathered in a commemoration ceremony grieving the loss of Soleimani. Recent weeks have seen the installation of scores of Soleimani billboards across Hezbollah-dominated areas in the south Beirut Dahye suburbs and throughout south Lebanon.
The move has fueled criticism by local Lebanese, who took to social media to protest Iran’s infringement of Lebanon’s sovereignty to try to counter Iran’s growing influence in the country.
Nizar Hassan, a Lebanese researcher, said that it highlighted Hezbollah’s desperation “to make (the) late Iranian General Qassem Suleimani a local hero, despite knowing that for the majority of people in Lebanon, he simply represents a foreign power.”
Another Lebanese citizen, Dalia Tarabay, tweeted a picture of the statue, saying: “The day will come when the Lebanese will tear down the statue of this terrorist and tyrant Qassem Soleimani like they have done with many other statues of tyrants before this. Until then, shame on anyone who deems this appropriate.”
The erection of the statue comes soon after a top IRGC commander boasted that Lebanon owed its missile capabilities to Iran and that the country was in the front line of Iran’s fight against Israel.