Lebanon Energy Minister Walid Fayyad 'shoved' as blackouts blight the country

Lebanon Energy Minister Walid Fayyad 'shoved' as blackouts blight the country
Eyewitnesses and viewers of footage of the incident were divided in their reactions to the minister reportedly being shoved into a wall and threatened by a well-known protester.
3 min read
25 April, 2022
The topic was trending in Lebanon on Monday as many voiced support for Fayyad [Getty- archive]

Lebanon's energy minister has been filmed being shoved after dining out in Beirut on Sunday night after protesters confronted the politician about the state of basic services in the country.

Walid Fayyad was confronted by activists as he left a restaurant in the Lebanese capital late on Sunday, shouting insults at the minister and blaming him for blackouts that can last for up to 23 hours a day.

In one video, an activist could be seen pushing Fayyad.

"This is a message from all the Lebanese people… who are sending you a message for you to wake up," the protester says to a nervous-looking Fayyad, before pushing him against a wall.

Fayyad quickly left the scene after the crowd intervened to defend the minister.

Some could be heard saying "no, this is wrong" and "shameful" at the protester, who judicial authorities issued an arrest warrant for on Monday, according to reports.

Lebanese media named the suspect as leading activist Elie Haykal.

In a post on Facebook, the man accused of pushing Fayyad denied he was linked to any political party or had a personal problem with the minister.

"Watch the whole video, he had four people and wasn't by himself and he was avoiding us and didn't come outside [from the restaurant] to speak with us," he wrote.

"If I really wanted to hit him I would have done so from the start, but I pushed him after an hour of talking with him and going back and forth ... if I wanted to hit him I wouldn't have pushed him, maybe now they'll become more empathetic towards us," he added.

The New Arab reached out to the activist accused of pushing the minister for comment.

Live Story

Fayyad, close to the Free Patriotic Movement and a cabinet minister since September, said "arresting the perpetrators is not enough".

The minister, who is usually seen out in public without bodyguards, has been verbally confronted by protesters before.

Videos have shown Fayyad being insulted at bars and restaurants since he took over the dreaded energy portfolio, in what some have deemed as "insensitive".

While some social media users condoned the act, many more slammed the protesters as "thugs" and said Fayyad is not responsible for Lebanon's long-running energy crisis.

They argued that few protesters would have dared confront him had he been in a convoy or surrounded by bodyguards.

The Arabic-language Twitter hashtag "energy minister" was trending in Lebanon.

The incident comes as Lebanon suffers from an acute energy crisis made worse by the country's years-long economic crisis. Some regions have not seen a single hour of electricity in days, while people heavily rely on expensive private generators. 

The energy sector has been mired in corruption and mismanagement for decades, and its poor state is hindering several already struggling sectors in the country.

A deal that would have seen Lebanon import energy from Egypt and Jordan via Syria to improve power rationing has yet to materialise.