TUE 22 - 9 - 2020
Date: Feb 25, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
NGO launches competition to fight celebratory, random gunfire
BEIRUT: A Lebanese NGO dedicated to raising awareness on the dangers of stray bullets announced over the weekend the launch of an annual competition for creative work calling attention to the cause. The award ceremony for the competition’s inaugural edition has been scheduled for May 3 at the Lancaster Plaza Hotel in Beirut’s Raouche, Aphrodite NGO announced at a news conference Saturday.

The winners will be selected from two categories: the best prose or poetry, and the best logo or design.

Aphrodite President Ahmad al-Zein said, “This event will help to spread the word among school children and university students so that we can eventually be rid of this cancerous scourge.”

Ghaida Suleiman, the mother of Sarah Suleiman, a young woman killed by a stray bullet in Zahle in 2017, spoke at the news conference about her daughter’s death.

“[My daughter] was barely 24 years old and loved by all. The killer, unfortunately, is still free because the state did not arrest him. I appeal to the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry to help with eradicating the epidemic of weapons that are found in many houses,” she said.

Suleiman also urged the state to take more rigorous action against those who participate in random gunfire. Lebanon’s new Interior Minister Raya El Hassan last week vowed to enforce strict implementation of laws related to celebratory gunfire and the use of weapons, as well as laws related to domestic violence, traffic and the environment.

While celebratory gunfire is technically illegal, it is common throughout Lebanon. Two deaths and 50 injuries due to overnight celebratory gunfire were reported across Lebanon on New Year’s Day 2019.

Article 75 of Lebanon’s Weapons Act states “anyone who opens fire in populated areas or amid crowds of people, whether with licensed or unlicensed weapons, is to be punished by a jail sentence of between six months and three years.”

But social activists and Lebanon’s Central Security Council have urged the judiciary to issue firmer sentences against suspects linked to random and celebratory gunfire.

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