Beirut Rally Demands End to U.S. Interference in Lebanon

March 13, 2005

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in Beirut on March 8, denouncing U.S. interference in the Middle East.

The huge rally, organized by Hezbollah, filled the giant plaza in central Beirut, spilling down streets and highways for miles in every direction. The exact size of the crowd was difficult to determine, according to reporters. Lebanese officials said 1.6 million people attended the rally, while other estimates placed the number at roughly 500,000.

Chanting protesters held aloft placards reading, in English, "All Our Disasters Come From America" and "No for the American Intervention." Columns of buses began flowing into downtown just after noon and lined streets for miles.

The rally was held a day after Syrian President Assad announced plans to pull back Syria's 15,000 troops in Lebanon to the eastern Bekaa Valley by the end of the month, while leaving open the timetable for a full withdrawal. At the rally, Hezbollah's secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, said that "only two governments should decide whether Syria should stay or go from Lebanon, not international pressure." Other speakers at the rally said that if the U.S. tried to invade and occupy Lebanon, just as "In the past, they have come to Lebanon, and they were defeated...If they come again, they will be defeated. Do not interfere."