Lebanon: Social and civil movement continues


The Lebanese street continues to live on the rhythm of social and civil protests following the 72 hours of time granted by the head of government, Saad Hariri, his team to find a solution able to ease social tensions. Flag-waving demonstrators converged once again on Beirut’s central business district, home to bank and government headquarters, where rioters clashed with police late into the night Friday. The protests first erupted Thursday night after the government said it might impose a fee on Whatsapp calls as part of broader efforts to shore up government revenues and avert an economic collapse.

Local and international media also reported that a precarious calm prevailed in Beirut following protracted hours of protests in which the police resorted to several means to remove protesters who tried to approach the seat of the government presidency.

In Tripoli, more than five people, including one who died later, were injured as a result of shooting around the demonstration. The private Lebanese channel 'Al Jadeed' claimed that the gunfire on the protesters was fired by the guards of the former deputy speaker of parliament, Mosbah Adhab.

Other protests were held in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of the Hezbollah Party (one of the largest components of the Hariri government), and in the city of Nabatieh, home to Hezbollah and Amal Party deputies. In the city of Tire, the stronghold of the Amal party and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Barri, several residents went out to protest against the party and its leader.

Media reports said the police arrested about 70 people on charges of 'sabotage, arson and theft in downtown Beirut'.

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Red Cross in Lebanon, George Kattanah, said that the organization has treated 64 wounded and transported 530 wounded to hospitals.

The protests in Lebanon broke out after the government decided on a new tax on internet communications. The cancellation of this tax was not enough to stop the protests and the country continues to live on the pace of protests with citizens who denounce the economic situation, the devaluation of the national currency and the economic bankruptcy that lurks Lebanon.