Protesters demanding the preservation of Ajam Palace
The heritage committee in Tripoli, north Lebanon, on Sunday protested in front of Ajam Palace, a historical site in the Old City or Bab el- Raml neighbourhood.
The demonstration was against what the people described
as \"looting\" and \"theft\" of the site, despite it being officially listed as an archaeological heritage structure.
Activists claim building contractors are trying to get the site demolished in order to free up space for new developments.
The chairman of the committee, Khalid Tadmary, said in a speech at the sit-in: \"The target of this protest is raise awareness about the importance of this site, and stop it from being demolished.\"
\"People are selling the palace\'s marbles, stones, and its long-standing arches, why we can\'t we see any official being punished for this? So what is the difference between what happening in al-Quds (Jerusalem) where our Arab identity is being demolished, and what is happening in Lebanon? They are selling our identity for money, if we continue down this path, nothing from our heritage will remain,\" he said.
\"A few months ago, some heritage buildings were sold in the city to contractors, as I demanded the municipal council assign the committee of heritage and monuments to record the number of heritage sites outside the Old City that are protected by law. These sites are not for sale and mus tnot be demolished, they need to be renovated or be allowed to have acceptable modifications on a case-to-case basis,\" he said.
Activists fear the palace will be demolished illegally anyway, if it is taken off the list of heritage structures, like what was done to the Alaneja Theatre and plans for the Ajam, Shaheen and Moroccan palaces.