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French Version


Funeral procession for Former lebanese Prime Minister

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Screaming and weeping mourners clambered around the flag-draped coffin carrying the body of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as hundreds of thousands of people turned out for his burial Wednesday, two days after a huge bomb killed the man credited with rebuilding post-civil war Lebanon.

Suspicions over Syrian involvement in Hariri's assassination further charged the atmosphere, with his family and supporters warning officials of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government to stay away. Internationally, pressure mounted to find his killers, with Washington recalling its ambassador and the U.N. Security Council demanding Lebanon catch bring those responsible for Hariri's slaying.

More than 200,000 people crowded into central Beirut square around the towering Mohammed al-Amin Mosque, which Hariri built. It is also where the billionaire businessman who was Lebanon's prime minister for 10 of the 14 years following the end of the 1975-90 civil was is to be buried.


The crowd was the largest seen in Lebanon except for the 1997 mass delivered in Beirut by Pope John Paul II that attracted almost 1 million people.

The funeral, policed by a huge security operation started at Hariri's palatial Koreitem compound then wound two miles through the capital's streets before arriving at his eventual burial place at the towering Mohammed al-Amin mosque, construction of which he funded.

Grieving relatives, including his three sons, carried the billionaire businessman's coffin, draped in a red, white and green Lebanese flag, out of an ambulance and through a heaving crowd of more than 200,000 people who had gathered outside the mosque or followed the procession. Many mourners scrambled to touch the casket as it passed by in a sign of respect as thousand of others chanted the Arabic words for "There is no God but Allah."

Hariri's eldest son, Baha, climed on top of several people's shoulders to yell into a microphone demanding calm from the heaving crowd as his father's coffin arrived at the mosque.

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Beirut 16-02-2005
Bassam Mroue
Associated Press writer



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