Lebanese blood is boiling. The same political class has been the ruling country for decades and sinking the public further into a cycle of debt, corruption, and violence - to name a few. Triggered by the government's plans to introduce new taxes, the Lebanese took to the streets on Thursday evening, protested until long after midnight, and reignited their movement Friday morning.
The manifestations started rather spontaneously after 40 youths blocked traffic on Beirut's Ring Highway, which developed into demonstrations attended by thousands of protesters in Beirut, Saida, Tyre, Nabatiyeh, Jbeil, Tripoli and Baalbeck, among other major cities.
The current demonstrations have been remarkable on many levels, with many longtime protesters describing an almost unprecedented sense of unity and conviction among the crowds. Their demands? Concrete change and serious reform, starting with the resignation of the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Here are some heartwarming highlights from the protests:
1. Only Lebanese flags are in sight
Among the most noteworthy aspects of the current movement is protesters' emphasis on revolting against the entire ruling class with no exceptions. Lebanese flags took the place of political symbols, banners of leading politicians were torn down, and typical chants supporting the country's political factions were replaced by the national anthem.
2. People in political strongholds are fearlessly speaking out
People in politically-affiliated areas have publicly and fearlessly criticized their most powerful leaders, proving yet again their commitment to the oft-used phrase"Kellon ya3ne kellon" (all of them means *all* of them).
3. Female protesters are pulling no punches
Unfazed by male domination over public spaces, women of all ages and backgrounds are taking center stage at the protests. In one widely shared video, a female protester can be seen kicking a man who appears to be a member of a politician's security team.
In another heartwarming shot, a group of women can be seen standing hand in hand on the front lines of the protests, creating a human barricade between protesters and armed forces.
4. Protesters and security forces aren't always at odds
Despite regular clashes between the two groups, social media users have highlighted moments of compassion and unity between protesters and security personnel, with some of the latter insisting they are also victims of the ruling class' shortcomings.
5. A clean manifestation in pursuit of a clean ruling class
Many social media users have shared footage of protesters cleaning up after Thursday's manifestations and picking up trash during the ongoing protests on Friday.
6. Legal professionals are offering protesters their services
Lawyers have announced they are offering free legal counsel to protesters in case of arrest. People are advised to write lawyers' phone numbers on their hands/arms in case their phones are lost, broken, or confiscated.
Lebanese Center For Human Rights (CLDH): +961 76 329319
Lawyers' Committee to Defend Protesters: +961 78 935579