By Kaline Hamadi
What started by several civil society affiliated groups within Lebanon, grew into the millions of Lebanese, and descendants of Lebanon, joining together in Beirut and across cities around the world to express their anger over the deep economic crisis and rampant state corruption plaguing Lebanon. A decision to impose a tax on all WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger calls appeared to be the trigger for many Lebanese citizens, who felt that the government’s proposed solutions to the crisis were inefficient. Lebanon already has some of the highest mobile network prices in the world. Ongoing problems in Lebanon include a longstanding environmental crises, water and electricity shortages, crumbling infrastructure and lack of state services, and extremely unequal distribution of riches and economic depletion. Generally, the mass protest has been peaceful and at times even amusing. Two weeks following the beginning of the protests, Saad Hariri resigns as Prime Minister. Unimpressed and wanting all officials to resign, including President Michel Aoun, protesters are still flooding the streets.
Friday, November 22, marked Lebanon’s Independence Day. As over a month of demonstrations continue, protesters crowded in central Beirut’s crowded Martyrs Square waving Lebanese flags and blaring music into the night.
Hariri, aligned with the west and Gulf Arab states and still acting as caretaker Prime Minister since his resignation, attended a ceremony with President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Hariri and Berri seemed at odds over the make-up of the next government.
In a televised speech marking independence day, President Aoun said it was “not the time for speeches, words and celebrations, … it is time for work, serious and diligent work because we are in a race against time.”