Beirut: A Muslim citizen who tweeted that he was barred from renting a flat in a predominately Christian area has triggered waves of criticism and accusations against the Al Hadath municipality chief.
Mohammad Awwad, a Lebanese citizen, tweeted that he was turned away from renting a flat in Al Hadath area on orders from the region’s Municipality Chief George Aoun.
Awwad tweeted that the municipality call centre’s attendant informed him that he cannot rent a flat because he is a Muslim following a decision by Aoun that rent is limited to Christians.
Awwad’s tweet triggered a massive outcry on social media where users criticised Aoun.
Following up on the incident, a reporter called the Municipality posing as a tenant, who was told she cannot rent if not a Christian.
An audio recording of the call of the exchange also went viral on social media.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s interior minister, Raya Al Hassan, said Aoun’s decision was “unacceptable and unconstitutional”.
Al Hassan said she asked the governor of Mount Lebanon [the governance under which Al Hadath Municipality operates] to listen to what Aoun has to say concerning the controversial decision before deciding to act accordingly.
“He [Aoun] will be asked to retract his remarks if they turn out to be true,” the minister told LBCI TV station.
Gulf News contacted Al Hadath Municipality Chief Aoun who said the decision dates back to May 2010.
“We are baselessly being accused of preventing Muslims from renting and this is a slanderous campaign. What we’ve been doing is asking Christians to stop migrating, selling or renting out their properties. The area’s population counted 120,000 amongst who are 70,000 Muslim Shiites we have always been and continue to be Lebanon’s best example of religious coexistence. Between 1990 and 2010 Shiites purchased 60 per cent of the properties. Since then, we asked Christians to stop leaving, selling or renting for demographical reasons,” Aoun told the newspaper.
He confirmed that he won’t reverse his decision that he described by a ‘medal of honour’.