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2005_06_Lebanon_LebaneseForces_043.jpg

On every corner of east Beirut, scores of Lebanese Forces flags and posters of Samir Geagea (their jailed leader) are sold, following an 11-year-ban on the party and its symbols.

Following the assassination of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on February 14, up to one million Lebanese rallied around the Statue of Liberty in the heart of Beirut. In an unprecedented display of unity, they called for justice, democracy, and the immediate retreat of Syrian troops, which had effectively ruled Lebanon since 1991. Many held Syria responsible for the killing of Hariri.

Under pressure of the Lebanese street and the international community, Syria pulled out of Lebanon by the end of April. However, while most demonstrators went home to prepare for the first free elections since 1972, one group remained camped under the statue at Martyrs Square: the Lebanese Forces (LF).

Founded in 1976, the LF is a former militia turned political party. Its aim is the preservation of Christian culture in Lebanon. The party emblem is a fragmented cross, which many supporters proudly wear on their chest. The cross also adorns the LF?s Crusaderlike flag. During the war, the LF aimed to establish a separate Christian nation, yet today party officials claim to recognize Lebanon's territorial integrity and demographic make-up, in which 18 confessions live side by side.

Members of the LF remained camped at the Statue of Liberty, as to them the liberation of Lebanon was not complete without the release of their leader Samir Geagea. Known as ?the doctor,? the former warlord spent 11 years in solitary confinement after being falsely accused of the 1994 bomb attack on a church, which killed ten people and wounded dozens of others. The gruesome attack during morning mass sheds a whole different light on the string of bomb attacks that rocked Lebanon following the Syrian retreat in April of 2005.
Copyright
© 2005 Matthew Arnold Photography
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On every corner of east Beirut, scores of Lebanese Forces flags and posters of Samir Geagea (their jailed leader) are sold, following an 11-year-ban on the party and its symbols.<br />
<br />
Following the assassination of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on February 14, up to one million Lebanese rallied around the Statue of Liberty in the heart of Beirut. In an unprecedented display of unity, they called for justice, democracy, and the immediate retreat of Syrian troops, which had effectively ruled Lebanon since 1991. Many held Syria responsible for the killing of Hariri.<br />
<br />
Under pressure of the Lebanese street and the international community, Syria pulled out of Lebanon by the end of April. However, while most demonstrators went home to prepare for the first free elections since 1972, one group remained camped under the statue at Martyrs Square: the Lebanese Forces (LF).<br />
<br />
Founded in 1976, the LF is a former militia turned political party. Its aim is the preservation of Christian culture in Lebanon. The party emblem is a fragmented cross, which many supporters proudly wear on their chest. The cross also adorns the LF?s Crusaderlike flag. During the war, the LF aimed to establish a separate Christian nation, yet today party officials claim to recognize Lebanon's territorial integrity and demographic make-up, in which 18 confessions live side by side.<br />
<br />
Members of the LF remained camped at the Statue of Liberty, as to them the liberation of Lebanon was not complete without the release of their leader Samir Geagea. Known as ?the doctor,? the former warlord spent 11 years in solitary confinement after being falsely accused of the 1994 bomb attack on a church, which killed ten people and wounded dozens of others. The gruesome attack during morning mass sheds a whole different light on the string of bomb attacks that rocked Lebanon following the Syrian retreat in April of 2005.