Lebanon News

Jovial and persistent, protesters gather on 25th day of uprising

BEIRUT: Protests were held in locations across Lebanon Sunday, on the 25th straight day of the nationwide uprising seeking to sweep away a decades-old political regime.

The atmosphere on the fourth Sunday of mass government protests was jovial but persistent as demonstrators organized marches, workshops, discussion groups and concerts in cities across the country.

Scores of protestors began to trickle into Beirut’s Downtown Sunday afternoon, waving flags and yelling chants of revolution. A theatrical "Revolutionary Court" was installed in Riad al-Solh Square, where a mock trial was staged for public figures who have allegedly stolen public funds. In Martyrs’ Square, dozens of pigeons were released to circle above Beirut’s protests.

Hundreds also gathered in the morning at Zaitunay Bay. Many carried flags, with some staging a sit-in on the waterfront. Protesters have been gathering at the posh marina – usually filled with the yachts of Lebanon's elite – to highlight corruption and the illegal acquisition of coastal properties in Lebanon.

The complex is also home to a string of pricey restaurants. “So many people wish they could come and sit here and eat, but can’t because it is so expensive. I hope we can all one day come here. ... This land is not for them, it’s for us,” a protester told local media.

In Tripoli, hundreds of protesters once again poured into Al-Nour Square, chanting for the downfall of the ruling class, dancing and singing. Earlier in the day, student marches continued in the streets of the north's capital. The students said that they would not return to their schools and universities until their demands regarding a new government had been met, the state-run National News Agency reported. Other demonstrators in Tripoli staged sit-ins outside of the homes of political leaders in the city, demanding their resignation.

In Tyre, protesters gathered in Alem Square, waving Lebanese flags in the air, before marching toward the city's branch of the Central Bank, singing the national anthem and chanting anti-government slogans.

Demonstrations also continued in Sidon’s Elia intersection. Protesters were invited to join dabkeh workshops and attend seminars on transparency, corruption and the economic situation. Dozens of Lebanese women in Sidon wearing the hijab also protested their right to enter the judiciary.

"I know a female judge who has been brought before the judiciary twice and her application has been rejected because of the hijab,” said veiled activist and law student Layal Tufeili.

In Nabatieh, a man dressed as Santa Claus was a focal point of the march that took place on the streets in the afternoon.

The nationwide uprising has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets since Oct. 17 in protest against what is seen as the state's corruption and officials' incompetence in dealing with the country's dire economic situation.

The protesters demanded the resignation of the government, which happened on Oct. 29 when Saad Hariri resigned from his post as premier, bringing down the government with him. The protesters have also demanded the immediate formation of a technocratic government, early parliamentary elections and the early end of President's Michel Aoun 3-year-old term, in addition to holding corrupt officials accountable and the return of "looted public funds."

Also Sunday, hundreds gathered in front of Akkar’s dormant Qleiaat airport, calling for it to reopen. Residents believe a new airport would strengthen the economy of north Lebanon. The demand, however, also carries political undertones, as the country's main airport in Beirut is seen by some to be under the influence of Hezbollah. – Additional reporting by Mohammed Zaatari





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