Only nine people turned up for the iftar meal
Most Lebanese mayors boycott Battle's iftar dinner to protest American
support, bias towards Israel.
SHTAURA, Lebanon - The US ambassador to Lebanon, Vincent Battle, was
snubbed by dozens of mayors he invited to a dinner for the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan Monday evening in an organized protest over Washington's
support for Israel.
Only nine people turned up for the iftar meal breaking the daily
dawn-to-dusk fast that is a main part of Ramadan at a hotel in the
eastern town of Shtaura, including just three of the local mayors who
Battle had sent out invitations to 55 mayors from Lebanon's Bekaa valley,
and preparations were made to host 100 people, hotel officials said.
Among those who attended under heavy security was the mayor of the small
mostly Christian town of Zahle.
At a meeting later held at the local headquarters of the Lebanese Baath
party, representatives of several political factions hailed the success
of the boycott.
The boycott had been called by the Bekaa municipalities assembly to
protest "American bias towards Israel" amid the 26-month Palestinian
uprising, and to demand an end to Washington's "unconditional support"
for the Jewish state, the groups said in a statement.
At the hotel, Battle said in a speech that the United States' strength
was in its impartiality, and added that it had wanted to express its
friendship to Muslim states by hosting iftar dinners.
On Wednesday night, a similar dinner hosted by the US ambassador in
Kaslik, a rich suburb of Beirut was attended by several members of
government, but Lebanon's Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani did not
attend to protest against US support for Israel.
Devout Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during
daylight hours throughout Ramadan, a month marked by an upsurge of
religious fervor and activity.