Lebanese Protesters Slam French 'Cooperation' with Political Leaders


Protesters in Beirut Tuesday called for a "new Lebanon" without its reviled leaders, urging visiting French President Emmanuel Macron not to cooperate with them.

Clashes erupted in the evening between angry demonstrators and security forces, who responded with tear gas, while earlier in the afternoon, people demonstrating in the capital called for urgent change.

Several held up black versions of the Lebanese flag in mourning for the victims of the massive explosion at Beirut's port on August 4 that killed 190, injured thousands and ravaged large parts of the city.

A protest movement that erupted in October last year has been revived since the blast, Lebanon's worst peace-time disaster that has sparked rage against official neglect and a political class accused of squandering away the country.

Demonstrators asked why Macron was meeting those very same leaders in his push for political change as the country marked 100 years since the former French mandate authorities proclaimed the creation of Greater Lebanon.

"He should come and listen to us, help us to realize our aspirations, not sit with the corrupt and criminals who killed their own people," said Rima, a 46-year-old protester.

In the capital's Martyrs Square, not far from the port, demonstrators one by one took to a stage to make their demands: a secular state, civil marriage, a productive economy.

Waving Lebanese flags and denouncing "corrupt" politicians, others nearby demanded the birth of a new secular state and the end of what they view as a broken political power-sharing system.

"The first century has been nothing but wars, foreign occupation, poverty, corruption, emigration, sectarian divisions, and now this explosion that killed and wounded thousands," said 21-year-old port worker Omar.

"We urgently need to revamp this system," he said, referring to a political arrangement that seeks to share power between Lebanon's myriad religious communities but instead often leads to endless deadlock.

- '(French) teargas' -

A loudspeaker blared patriotic songs as images of the French proclamation of Greater Lebanon on September 1, 1920, as well as of the port blast last month, played on a screen.

Zalfa, 70, said: "We want this second century to be one of secularism."

Clashes erupted in the evening, sparking condemnation from activists and rights defenders over the authorities' use of force.

"While Macron is meeting Lebanon officials, protesters are saying the entire ruling class has lost legitimacy," wrote Human Rights Watch researcher Aya Majzoub on Twitter.

"They have been met with large quantities of (French) teargas, beatings, and arrests. In one incident, more than 10 police beat/kicked a protester on the ground," she said.

An AFP reporter saw a large group of security forces with batons move in on protesters. One demonstrator was helped away afterwards with blood splashed across her gas mask.

The Red Cross said one wounded person had to be transported to hospital.

Lebanon's previous government stepped down after the port blast last month.

A new prime minister, little-known diplomat Mustafa Adib, was tasked Monday to form a new cabinet, just hours before Macron's visit.

The August 4 explosion came after months of Lebanon's worst economic crisis in decades -- which has seen poverty soar to more than half the population -- and a coronavirus outbreak.

Comments 8
Thumb lubnani.masi7i 01 September 2020, 22:24

Does Macron seriously believe the corrupt political class that destroyed and bankrupted Lebanon are the ones to be reformed and reform the System?

Thumb thefool 02 September 2020, 11:31

I read “The street demands...” and stopped reading. Every other person wants something, nor you, nor I saw what “the people demand”. Nothing intelligent, no solution came out of them. With all that has happened, people are fed up with nagging. They want solutions, hope. Something to work for.

Thumb doodle-dude 01 September 2020, 22:41

lol @ the shia resistance version 4.0 who lives in the USA and not Iran and wants to destroy the 'Zionist' enemy.

Thumb justin 01 September 2020, 23:32

الزغبي: هروب رعد من “النبيد” يفضح “مدنية” عون

اعتبر الكاتب والمحلل السياسي الياس الزغبي، أن “اليوم قد تحدد مصير الدولة المدنية التي دعا اليها رئيس الجمهورية ميشال عون، من خلال نفور وهروب ممثل حزب اللّه النائب محمد رعد من حفل الغداء بقصر بعبدا، بسبب قنينة نبيذ على المائدة”.


Default-user-icon mowaten-fantoura (Guest) 02 September 2020, 00:11


Default-user-icon Muslem (Guest) 02 September 2020, 10:27

Accpet Islam and prosper

Thumb thefool 02 September 2020, 11:27

Lol. This guy?

Thumb thefool 02 September 2020, 11:26

These protestors are exaggerating. All they do is complain and Offer No Solution.

Nagging is the easiest thing in the world. Instead of protesting, and complaining, offer an alternative, be the change they want! It’s been 9 months and nothing intelligent came out of them.

The person who shouts the loudest is now the person to ignore during a crisis.

These Protestors Moto: “We know what we’re against, but offer no solution”. After 6 months of nothing intelligent came out of them, it’s time to replace this mechanism and focus on solutions!