Several hundred protesters gathered outside the French embassy in Beirut Monday to demonstrate against the postponed release of former Marxist rebel Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.
Some demonstrators began hurling eggs and rocks at the embassy after shutting down traffic to demand the political prisoner’s immediate release following his 28-year imprisonment in France.
“O France, you son of a bitch! Georges Abdallah is in our hearts!” the crowd chanted in Arabic.
Graffiti sprayed on walls facing the embassy read: “France = American whore,” and “Freedom to Georges Abdallah.”
Georges’ brother, Joseph, urged the demonstrators not to resort to violence, and called for them to respect the law.
Lebanese security forces later barricaded the embassy and confined the protesters to a rectangular area inside metal barriers.
The protesters have also begun setting up tents, vowing to launch an open-ended sit-in.
France’s interior minister refused to sign an expulsion order Monday to repatriate Abdallah to Lebanon where thousands of his supporters had expected to welcome him home.
French officials are now scheduled to meet on January 28 to formalize Abdallah’s parole, but his supporters fear the postponement is a first step to renew his detention.
Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati reportedly told the French ambassador in a telephone call Monday that the postponement was “unjustified.”
Lebanon’s foreign minister Adnan Mansour summoned French envoy Patrice Paoli for a Tuesday meeting over the issue.
Abdallah was granted parole on 21 November 2012. Prosecutors in December appealed the decision, but the ruling was upheld in court on Thursday despite US and Israeli pressure to keep him locked up.
He has remained in prison since 1984 over complicity in the killings two years earlier of an American military officer and an Israeli diplomat.
He was handed a life sentence in 1987 despite the absence of concrete evidence to implicate him in the murders.
Demonstrators condemned a statement earlier Monday by Samir al-Jisr, a senior official from the Western-backed Future Movement and former justice minister, describing Abdallah as a “criminal.”
Abdallah was last granted parole in 2003, but a similar appeal struck down the decision.
The United States as recently as Friday renewed its calls for France to block the release, saying that Abdallah continues to pose a threat.