With the BLM Movement sweeping America, I was hesitating whether to create a post about Lebanon’s protests or not out of respect for the United States’ current event. But then I thought that if I were to do that, “how could I have the right to call myself a proud Lebanese woman if I were to remain silent about the unbearable injustices drowning my home right now? How could I remain silent despite witnessing my people suffering?” I’d be a shameful hypocrite for praising and speaking about Lebanon only when it was convenient and remaining silent during a critical time when it needs the most voices heard possible.
Protests in Lebanon originally erupted back in October of 2019 because of the government’s incompetency to deal with a variety of issues, such as corruption, a lack of government transparency, price hikes, the collapsing Lebanese currency and disastrous economy, a lack of jobs, remaining jobs unable to pay its employees, the country being billions of dollars in debt, nepotism, poor electricity, (daily electricity outages), garbage piled up in the streets, sporadic water cuts and poor water quality, environmental degradation, scarce medical supplies, unreasonably high food prices, and half of the country living below the poverty line–which has led to further issues, such as a 20% increase of burglaries, a 103% increase of murders, rampant illness in both adults and children, (such as cancer), and subsequent deaths to the extent of people dropping dead in the street. Here are a few stories I’ve heard from the news:
One man from Tripoli, for example, yelled during a protest earlier this year: “We are dying of hunger”; A taxi driver set his car on fire when security forced fined him for breaking the lockdown rules; A street vendor threw his produce on the streets in frustration after the police suspended his business; A jobless construction worker who can no longer afford rent tried to sell his kidney; Another man set himself on fire when he could no longer pay his child’s tuition fees and create a future for her.
And to make matters worse, citizens were forced to pause their protests and quarantine themselves because of the COVID-19 outbreak–until now. The protests will be resuming today because Lebanon’s people cannot take it anymore. Imagine how bad it must be for people to risk getting sick and dying just to get a chance to create a future for themselves and live again. One protestor, for example, the other day on the news stated that “this government will kill us before Corona does.” As you can see from a few examples, Lebanon is experiencing a heartbreaking crisis with, (as of now), no solutions being implemented yet–which is why people have decided to take it into their own hands and protest against the government officials, yelling, “All of them means all of them.”
Whenever individuals talk about Lebanon, they often reminisce about its beauty in the 50 and the 60s and how it was the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ and it makes me so sad knowing that its potential to become that once again is getting destroyed with every passing day. But why does it have to be that way? Why can’t we make that fleeting dream once again a reality?
Why can’t we rebuild Lebanon just like we’ve done before again and again and again. Why can’t we uphold ourselves as ‘phoenixes,’ as journalists and international officials recurrently call us and rebuild our country again–starting by going down to the protest in Beirut today and letting our voices be heard. And for those of us that can’t physically be there, why can’t we raise awareness about the issue and encourage others to help in whatever ways we can, such as donating to organizations, the homeless, educating others, encouraging the Lebanese people to keep going, letting them know that we’re listening to their desperate cries, and supporting them in their protest, etc. Why can’t we unite and fight for change–especially when it’s the only option that we, the Lebanese people, have left if we wish to reclaim our country and live again?
Some of you may think it’s naive of me to assume/hope that people will disregard their sectarian prejudices and join together in this fight for rights, peace, and justice. But I disagree with that. I have hope, and hope, goals, and dreams are what have allowed countries to manifest and be. After all, how can an entire nation change if its people won’t? If we want that dream of ours of a new Lebanon to come true, we need to work towards that dream because Lebanese lives absolutely matter.