In Tripoli, violent demonstrations in an explosive political context

Lebanese soldiers during confrontations with demonstrators in Tripoli on April 28.
Lebanese soldiers during confrontations with demonstrators in Tripoli on April 28. IBRAHIM CHALHOUB / AFP

Ghouraba district, in Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon. Narrow alleys on the high ground, around a cemetery. Plates in hand, women and children will sit in front of one of the shacks in this suburb, transformed into a temporary kitchen by an association. They wait their turn to bring back what will serve as iftar, the breaking meal of fasting, in this time of Ramadan. No social distancing, no masks, even if the threat of the new coronavirus remains present. A mask? This is the youngest concern for 40-year-old Amina Majdalani. "We live day by day wondering what we are going to eat. " Her husband, a worker, works "When there is an opportunity". At least he still has a job.

All the ingredients are there for the street to explode: the unofficial but galloping devaluation (the dollar is traded at 4,000 Lebanese pounds, against 1,500 according to the official rate); inflation (the price of baby milk has tripled); economic activity, already damaged, stopped due to a health crisis; draconian banking restrictions and without legal basis.

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In Ghouraba, says Adnane, we distinctly heard the sound of the riots that shook the center of Tripoli on Monday, or at least " the shots ". Tensions resumed on Wednesday, April 29 in the evening, on Al-Nour square, which was for several months the epicenter of popular protest born in October 2019, and in the Mina district, near the sea. Adnane has all reasons to protest. "In my life, I have seen my daily life only regress. We're bottoming out today. " If he understands the anger, this 40-year-old father does not take to the streets: "I hesitate, a protester is dead (died Tuesday of his injuries after being hit by live ammunition from the army the day before). And then I have cousins ​​soldiers, I don't want to be face-to-face with them. "

Explosive political context

The protests have taken a violent turn since their return to the city. In Al-Nour square and in the city center, banks were set on fire. Workers put metal panels on the closed agency windows. On Wednesday afternoon, in the Mina district, young people demonstrated against the arrest by the security services of protesters. In the evening, the scenes of the previous days resumed: throwing stones and firecrackers against the soldiers, shooting of rubber bullets by the army. And the wounded, on both sides.

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