In Lebanon, "For the first time, we end the legacy of war"

A week after the start of the protest, tens of thousands of protesters continue to mobilize for "change".

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Anti-government protesters surrounded by the army on October 23 in Jal el-Dib.
Anti-government protesters surrounded by the army on October 23 in Jal el-Dib. Hassan Ammar / AP

The day dawns on the center of Beirut, and the arrival of the rain is greeted with laughter, Wednesday, October 23, by the Lebanese who took the pavement to denounce the negligence and corruption of the political class. Around the Place des Martyrs, under the rare trees, the awnings freshly mounted and the porch of the Mohamed Al-Amine mosque, we invent a shelter. Jokes, impromptu discussions between unknown, the time of the short shower. Who knows the hopes that political leaders base on the bad weather forecast in the coming days, to clear the crowd?

Because nothing helps. Mobilization is not weakening. Universities have reopened, but students are still on the streets. "I will not go back, not at this historic moment," says Miled, 23 years old. The intervention of the army, on Wednesday, to try to clear blocked roads, outside Beirut, did not discourage the protesters, nor allowed to raise most dams. Prime Minister Saad Hariri's announcements of reforms on Monday remain mocked as false promises. "We will continue down the street, to maintain the pressure," warns Myriam, a teacher.

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Volunteers offer bottles of water, biscuits. A protester slips a note to an old beggar with a bouquet of roses. Coffee vendors clink their cups. Hookah rentals have taken root. "We must continue the blockage: the strike, the popular mobilization, roadblocks", says Diane Hojeiri, 27. The street has already managed to impose its tempo, immobilizing the country. Thursday morning, many axes remained blocked in the country by improvised dams.

"Moment of great unity"

It's not only "The trust that is broken," as Mohamed says, just graduated. It is a valve that has opened up: the speech, so long kills, the frustrations and desires for change stifled, and which now overflow. "I love you, my people," wrote a protester on a sign. "For the first time, I feel that we are ending the legacy of the war (1975-1990), made of divisions," rejoices Ghada, a student.

Color tags in the name of "freedom" or "revolution" now cover the walls of the city center. Young people climb a ladder to reach the summit of the "egg", an abandoned place, as emblematic of the war as the mistakes of the post-conflict reconstruction. It's all the public space that is reappropriated.


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