Protests in Lebanon Erupt Amid Economic Crisis
20% of the country’s population protested against government corruption and unfair taxes.
More than a million people have taken to the streets in Lebanon over the past week, protesting against corruption and the government’s weak response to the country’s economic crisis.
About 20% of the entire population was estimated to be out in the streets on Sunday. What started with scooters and window smashing morphed into waving flags and signs, and blocking roads with vehicles and makeshift barricades. The anti-government protests have been the country’s largest since the Cedar Revolution in 2005.
The country has “one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world,” and basic necessities like electricity and water are frequently unavailable to many, according to The New York Times.
After a tax on WhatsApp calls to raise government revenue was announced last week, protesters took to the streets.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and the Lebanese government have recently said they would rescind the WhatsApp tax. They also agreed to a list of demands by the protesters — but many say they are skeptical about the authenticity of the promises, and would rather have the power handed over to a transitional council of judges with no political affiliation until new elections are held. According to Reuters, leaders are discussing a possible government reshuffle. International donors have also pledged to help Lebanon reduce its debt in the past.
Lebanon joins Hong Kong, Barcelona, Santiago and several other regions around the world whose citizens have risen up in protest against measures they find oppressive.