Beirut: Lebanon’s foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, is under fire after a tweet he posted sparked backlash with users accusing him of being a racist.
The tweet, intending to defend Lebanon’s workforce, read: “It is normal to defend the Lebanese labour force against any other foreign labour, whether it be Syrian, Palestinian, French, Saudi, Iranian or American, the Lebanese come first!”
However, many users on social media, including renowned journalists, actors and politicians criticised Bassil, who also heads the Free Patriotic Movement and is the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun.
Many called for his sacking, describing his tweet as “controversial and discriminatory”.
The hashtag “the foreign minister should resign” went viral, recording more than 9,000 tweets.
One user said, “Bassil only wants Christians around him, that doesn’t build a good Lebanon. He is like a Lebanese Hitler”.
Another user said: “For the love of God, stop disgracing us".
Another user said, “let there be jobs in Lebanon before calling to expel foreign labourers”.
One Saudi user retorted by saying that Saudis should do the same and fire around 200,000 Lebanese expatriates working in Saudi Arabia.
“Saudis first,” he tweeted.
Another Saudi user branded Bassil as an “Iranian agent” and said: “why isn’t this chatterbox refrained from talking and stopped from offending Lebanon”.
Bassil later defended himself saying that it was “normal for the state to distinguish its citizens from others” rejecting accusations that he was a racist.
He said his tweet had been misinterpreted and intentionally taken out of context.