Beirut: Battle of the Crowds
7:00 am 400,000 people
8:00 am 800,000 people
9:00 am 1,200,000 people
Slogans of the day: We want the truth. Justice for Hariri, Martyr for the Independence of Lebanon!
And a cacophony of voices:
Terje Roed Larsen: Syrian President al-Assad has confirmed to me that both the Syrian intelligent apparatus —that is to say the presence without uniform- as well as the uniformed military would be first redeployed from all parts of Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley and that second, before 1 April, a substantial portion of Syria’s troops and intelligence services would be repatriated to Syria.
Salim Aoun, National Freedom Movement and son of exiled Christian General Michel Aoun: Syrian intelligence pressured the drivers of busses and minivans [to the demonstrations]not to turn up for work.
Radwan, 50 year-old Sunni Lebanese: Today’s demonstration proves that there is a communal desire to live together. This is not an Israeli or an American or a French plot. We want to be free within our country, that’s all.
Anwar, Druze Sheik: The Syrians are our brothers. We have been linked by blood to them for centuries, but the Syrian Army and the Mukhabarat are no longer welcome in Lebanon, especially in the Bekaa Valley.
Emile Lahoud, Lebanese President: Hezbollah will not be disarmed and it is not considered a militia.
Nasrallah Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch: Shows of strength in the street have a negative impact on the stability and economy of Lebanon.
Munib Nassereddeen, Beirut city spokesman: More than 800,000 are here; demonstrators continue to pour into the city. This demonstration is two and a half times bigger that that organized by the friends of Syria in Riad Solh Square last Tuesday.
Michel Aoun, in exile: I shall return to assist in national reconciliation.