Beirut: A group of college students where branded ‘beggars’ and forced to leave a public park by a Lebanese parliamentarian’s guards while collecting funds for a cardiac patient’s imminent surgery.
The father of one of the students was in need of $20,000 for an urgent heart operation before the group of college friends took to the streets of Tripoli last week to pool in some donations.
Lebanese MP Dima Jamali was said to have asked her security guards to demand the students leave the park, said media reports. “We were shocked once we were told to leave … we were collecting donations to cover the funds for [a potentially life-saving] operation for a friend’s father. When we tried to convince the guards to allow us to meet MP Jamali to explain that we were there for a humanitarian cause, we were asked to go and beg outside the park. We were not begging to be called so,” said one of the students named Mufeed.
The students, thereafter, took to social media and clarified what had happened and how they were reportedly told by the lawmaker ‘to go beg somewhere else’.
Mufeed posted a video on his social media platform explaining what had happened.
Following the incident, the Tripoli-born MP Jamali, a member of the Future Movement of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, faced outrage across social media as the issue snowballed.
After waves of criticism, controversy and social media outcry, it was reported that the tension was defused following the intervention of premier Hariri.
The students posted on social media that the disagreement with the lawmaker had been resolved amicably after she apologised and they clarified their situation.
“The issue has been resolved. The Prime Minister sent us some donations and thanks to God we collected the full amount $20,000. All what has happened was in favour of the patient who has been operated on and he is stable now,” said Mufeed.
Gulf News contacted Mufeed for a comment but he did not respond.
Jamali’s office issued a statement saying she will sue those who used the incident to smudge her personal reputation on social media.
This is the second social media ‘controversy’ involving MPs of Future Movement.
Earlier this month, a photo of Muslim Beirut-born MP Rola Tabsh went viral showing her drinking coffee during Ramadan while offering condolences on the demise of Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir.
She faced criticism for failing to conceal that she had been not been fasting.
Bassam Za’za’ is a freelance journalist based in Beirut.