Civil Protests and Politics in Lebanon


Public movements are the most democratic way to express yourself and the most efficient method to intimidate a government into executing quick short-term changes. It became clear that getting people’s rights on the streets of Lebanon is no longer a valid option, although the objectives are still maintained, the technique failed.

Usually in a modern system when people take the streets, politicians get nervous, they fulfill protesters’ demands before resigning; but in Lebanon both protesters and government know that things always take a different path.

In June 2015, Dutch citizens publicly protested and sued their government over inaction on climate change and won. Meanwhile in Lebanon, people protested over garbage crisis, they were beaten and challenged by a government trying everything to remain in power.

Protests in Beirut begun in July following the “permanent” closure of Naa’meh site, a landfill owned by the government and managed by Sukleen, was dumping unsorted waste for the last 20 years, creating air and ground pollution for the villages nearby. Never in Lebanon’s modern history took place a public protest without the consent of a prominent politician or under his direct orders for the sole reason of putting pressure on his rivals. Demonstrators used to show up, block roads, create chaos before disappearing as soon as their leader obtains his political demands.

Nevertheless, August 22nd movement confused politicians, security forces and even Lebanese citizens for being impartial in its affiliation; we all believed that this could be the sparkle we were waiting for to get rid of corruption and political incompetence and the perfect time to put Lebanon on the right track of modernization and development.

But usually public protests give positive results within a week but 3 months already passed in Lebanon without any response on the initial demands. New slogans were made up every day calling for the resignation of ministers, demanding the election of a president, others asking for solutions on the garbage and electricity crisis; later on, the movement took a more symbolic form with people attending the protest to express their funny demands.

We need an intellectual revolution before any other kind of revolutions

It’s vital before taking any public action to understand the situation and the necessity of planning our moves. Our recurrent mistake in Lebanon is accepting the regular postponing of critical matters like electricity, social affairs, infrastructure projects, or modern laws without ever planning sustainable long-term solutions.

In instance, the current government is eager to find new dumping areas for the garbage crisis before figuring out a sustainable plan for the garbage, a way to calm the public opinion and gain more time. Again, the question we should ask ourselves is how can we detach ourselves from the usual politicians that have been enslaving us since…forever?

How can we ignore the messages of fear communicated by politicians to gain our votes?

How can we put aside Palestine and Israel and focus more on Lebanon?

How can we reject opulent’ briberies and instead vote for a program?

How can we denounce anyone who alludes to the civil war in order to gain our compassion?

We have the power in our hands but we simply refuse to use it, we’re too scared to express ourselves. These people who we call leaders enslaved us, we allowed them to think for us, we worship them, we accept their mistakes, we tolerate their political moods and abide their justifications.

We need people who made changes in the last decade, not those who promote the idea of a better future and made us live on alternatives, we need actions not promises, we need people like Assaad Nakad (Chairman of EDZ) , someone like Ziad Hawat (Mayor of Jbeil), Hayat Arslan (Activist), Neemat Frem (Industrialist) and many others who always work behind the Lebanese scenes.

The current situation in Lebanon is unenviable, on top of that a civil society protest that adds nothing but more chaos, confrontations and pressure to a political body that is unable to handle its own affairs.

If we’re unhappy with the current politicians, we should focus more on combining our forces and start campaigning for the next elections in 2017, as this will determine if we really want change or we’re satisfied with what we currently have.

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