Syrian 'regime soldiers on catwalk' at controversial Beirut fashion show
A Syrian fashion designer has sparked anger after she posed on the catwalk with models dressed in Syrian military uniforms at a show in Lebanon.
Manal Ajaj made the political statement on Wednesday at the end of her fashion show "Jasmin Goddess" at a hotel in Beirut.
The Dubai-based designer's homage to the military of the Syrian regime concluded the event, which featured outfits inspired by historical women from the Middle East.
The military salute has provoked angry responses in Lebanon, where over a million Syrian refugees have fled since the civil war broke out there in 2011.
Lebanese social media users have strongly condemned the spectacle, deeming it ill-considered given the Syrian military's divisive three-decade presence in the country.
"In April 2005, the Syrian army left Lebanon after a 30-year occupation. In October 2017, the Syrian military uniform has returned to the heart of the capital," said one Facebook user.
The organisers of the show told local media on Friday that they were unaware of Ajaj's plan to make the controversial statement.
"Ajaj was so discreet about her fashion show that she had even closed the doors during the runway rehearsals," L.I.P.S. Management head Johnny Fadlallah said.
"Each designer is free to do what he/she wants; criticism or compliments are to be borne by the designer only," he said, adding: "We have nothing to do with what the designer presents."
Last year, a fashion show in the Syrian city of Latakia was condemned for taking place at the same time as Russian and Syrian warplanes bombed rebel-held East Aleppo.