Fierce debate has broken out after fans raised two Turkish flags at a Lebanese basketball match, apparently in an attempt to anger Armenian players and fans, Al Bawaba reports.
The flags were photographed on Sunday during a game between the Riyadi and Homenetmen clubs in Lebanon’s basketball league. Homenetmen are a Lebanese-Armenian team, representing the estimated four percent of the Lebanese population who are of Armenian descent, according to Minority Rights Group.
The recent flag waving appears to have been pre-planned and deliberately provocative, as one Riyadi fan, Mohammed Khoder, tweeted on Sunday morning “Tonight we’ll be raising the turkish flag in the basketball game against homentmen ‘Armenian Lebanese team’! BURNNN”. The tweet was later taken down.
A Riyadi fan page posted the following unapologetic message on Facebook: “If you want to prevent us from raising the Turkish flag at the stadium, then prevent them from singing the Armenian national anthem at their stadium.”
Meanwhile, one Lebanese blogger called the flag-waving “disgusting, disgraceful, hurtful and despicable.”
Riyadi club issued a statement on their Facebook page, “denouncing” and “rejecting” the raising of the Turkish flag, emphasizing that no provocative chanting took place during the game, and that the flags were flown after it had finished. The club also offered assurances that it would increase its efforts to prevent a repeat of what happened.