A groundswell of discontent is driving desperate Lebanese people onto the streets to protest their government and demand structural reform
Rabat – On Saturday, August 8, large protests are being organized in the Lebanese capital as citizens express their exasperation with their government following the August 4 explosion that destroyed large swaths of Beirut’s port area. Years of discontent appear to have collided with the shock of the destruction wreaked by the explosion of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, improperly stored for years.
Protest reaches parliament
Thousands of Lebanese people have taken to social media to call for a united front as people protest the government, in an effort to avoid sectarian division that has often been a barrier to reform. “Lebanon is Rising” is the top trending subject on Lebanese Twitter followed by the word “parliament.”
A Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star, dubbed the protests the “Saturday of revenge” as it reported on large crowds clashing with government forces near parliament. Security forces have been mobilized and have fired tear gas at protesters approaching government buildings.
— Kareem Chehayeb | كريم (@chehayebk) August 8, 2020
Nothing to lose
Foreign governments appear to anticipate greater upheaval as the protest movement evolves today. The British government will allow its citizens to fly out of Lebanon without emergency travel documents, even accepting expired passports.
“After three days of cleaning, removing rubble and licking our wounds … it is time to let our anger explode and punish them,” Fares Halabi, who intends to protest the government today, told the Guardian.
With the Lebanese in a state of collective frustration and shock, today’s protest against the government appears to be dedicated to change like never before. “This is the biggest warning for everyone now that we don’t have anything to lose anymore. Everyone should be in the streets today, everyone,” activist Hayat Nazer told Agence France Presse.