Groups of people chanting in solidarity with the country’s powerful Shi’ite Hezbollah group pushed into a peaceful demonstration on Friday in Beirut, briefly scuffling with protesters and prompting riot police to intervene.
Dressed in plain black t-shirts common to Shi’ite Hezbollah and Amal movement supporters, the men shouted “we heed your call, Nasrallah,” in reference to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Similar scuffles broke out on Thursday night at the same site in central Beirut.
Following the scuffles more riot police with masks and batons were dispatched to the square to defuse the situation, which appeared to be growing more tense.
Some people began lobbing stones and sticks, threatening to quickly turn the so far peaceful protests violent.
“Nasrallah is more honorable than all of them,” they chanted about government leaders accused of corruption by the protesters. “Riad Salameh is a thief,” they shouted, in reference to the central bank governor.
Nationwide protests fueled by deteriorating economic conditions have swept Lebanon since last week, with protesters calling for the ouster of a ruling elite they say have driven the economy to collapse through corruption and mismanagement.