Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Dabke, DJs and Baby Shark: the best tweets from the Lebanon protests

As the nation deals with its biggest protests since 2015, every moment is being shared online

Lebanese protesters, wearing the masks of the Spanish TV show "La Casa de Papel", dance during a protest against dire economic conditions in the Lebanese southern port city of Sidon. AFP
Lebanese protesters, wearing the masks of the Spanish TV show "La Casa de Papel", dance during a protest against dire economic conditions in the Lebanese southern port city of Sidon. AFP

Lebanon entered its fourth day of protests on Saturday with thousands rallying across the country in the past two days, in the largest demonstration the country has seen since 2015. The protests could further destabilise a country whose economy is already on the verge of collapse and has one of the highest debt loads in the world.

Young people, as with many of the global protests taking hold today, are at the forefront. Their technology and social media savvy means every twist and turn of the uprising has been shared online.

Here are some of the best tweets on the situation.

Why are Lebanese people protesting?

First of all, let's start with an explanation of what's going on. It all began with a reaction to government plans to tax the public for using WhatsApp, but this has widened into protests against systemic inequality, a failing economy and corruption. Economist Lydia Assouad shared her thoughts in a Twitter thread.

What do they want?

Protesters say they have had enough of endless electricity cuts, what they say is crippling nepotism, and, in Beirut, the looming spectre of rubbish dumps brimming almost full.

They say they are tired of struggling to make ends meet in an ailing economy, and a lack of job opportunities that sends many graduates fleeing abroad.

Lebanon's public debt stands at more than $86 billion (Dh316bn), according to the finance ministry — one of the highest in the world.

The World Bank says more than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line.

A night of violence and damage...

The protests were marked at first by destruction and violence in the capital Beirut and other cities. Windows and shopfronts of a new development near Martyrs' Square were kicked in, fires were lit and demonstrators scuffled with police.

...followed by a festive atmosphere

However, as the protests wore on into a third day, a more festive atmosphere took over.

Demonstrators even helped to clean up the mess others had made on Sunday morning.

Tripoli turns into a nightclub

Demonstrators showed little sign of slowing down on Saturday evening. In clips shared online, crowds could be seen lifting their phones into the air and dancing as music blared in the northern city of Tripoli. In other towns and cities a jovial atmosphere was reported as young people sang in the street.

Baby Shark

As protesters blocked the streets of Beirut, some cars became trapped. According to this tweet, a mother and her child were treated to a rendition of popular children's song Baby Shark by some demonstrators. Just one example of the jovial atmosphere on Saturday evening.

Non-sectarian and non-factional

The National's Willy Lowry notes the lack of political party flags, and the abundance of the red, white and green Lebanese flag. People from all religious and political backgrounds have joined the protests, many saying they would remain on the streets until the government resigned.

Solidarity around the world

In cities including London, Melbourne and Washington DC, Lebanese people and their sympathisers also took to the streets to demand change.

Symbolism

Artists are already putting their spin on the protests, and an unusual pop culture figure has featured prominently — the Joker from the Batman comic and film franchise.

What's next?

Thanassis Cambanis, an analyst at The Century Foundation, laid out his thoughts on what will happen next, and he sees reason to hope for better in the future.

Lebanon's finance minister said on Saturday after a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri that they had agreed on a final budget that did not include any additional taxes or fees in a bid to appease nationwide protests.

Lebanon President Michel Aoun said in a tweet that there would be a "reassuring solution" to the economic crisis.

Updated: October 20, 2019 01:19 PM

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