The rising costs of life, together with the corruption by officials and the high unemployment have reached a peak in Lebanon. The population is revolting because they are tired of misgovernment and they’re hungry for change. Lebanese protesters demand the resignation of all political leaders and wish to put an end to the current government system.
Protests began on October 17, following the government’s plans of imposing new taxes on tobacco, petrol and WhatsApp calls, as public continued to protest. The government, hurriedly reversed its tax proposals, but it was too late; protesters already invaded the streets in opposition to new taxes being imposed, while Lebanon was in the middle of an already on-going economic crisis.
The political elites are trying to get together on one side against the Lebanese protesters, because of their fear of losing their power, but it’s not clear for how long the protests intend to continue. While the Lebanese population is fighting against corruption and misrule, politicians fight to receive more power and control, in order to put an end to the anger of its people. However, even though the protests started over a single issue, they have rapidly developed into something much bigger: calls for economic and political reforms.
Let’s take a look at Lebanon’s political system to understand better the situation
In Lebanon, power is spread out among three religious communities: Christian, Sunni, and Shia. Because of this, the political system governs based on its religious differences. For nearly 30 years now, that political system has largely been credited with keeping relative peace. Now, protestors are saying it’s corrupted and divided between elites with power and people with nothing.
Meanwhile, many of those policies have also put Lebanon in the middle of a massive financial crisis, with some economists warning that it could face a complete economic collapse. Lebanon also has one of the world’s highest debt, which means that the government does not have as much money or resources to address any kind of social and economic problem.
Many people in Lebanon are living in very poor life conditions. Unemployment is very high, especially among young people. Moreover, Lebanon has a massive population of Syrian refugees, which is currently estimated at 1.5 million, but could increase at any time.
While smaller protests have gone on throughout Lebanon for weeks now, the biggest ones started with the government’s decision to raise and implement more taxes. During the first few days, thousands of protestors in cities all over the country came out to demonstrate. Young people were the most violent and protested with fires, by smashing windows, and by chanting against the government. The police responded with tear gas.
Things changed when hundreds of thousands of people took over the streets for peaceful protests, which has never been seen for nearly 15 years. People usually divided along the different religion elites, while this time they have come together to demonstrate against their own leaders, calling for them to step down the system for an entire change within the political system. This is another reason why the government want to stop the protests, because of their fear that the population won’t take religious parts anymore, but they will all join together against power.