Lebanon: A breath of fresh air

Lebanon: A breath of fresh air
3 min read
09 Sep, 2015
Comment: The Lebanese know what's ailing their country and have united to demand comprehensive reform and show the "old guard" they will not serve their political agendas, writes Moe Chreif.
People from all walks of Lebanese society unite to say enough [Anadolu]
The Lebanese have created for themselves a breath of fresh air amid a refuse crisis.

They have refused to succumb to what many had previously seen as political corruption so common place and a fact of life that it could have virtually been part of the country's constitution.

The people of Lebanon have for the first time taken to the streets en masse, uniting all walks of society and backgrounds.

Demonstrating the non-partisan nature of the campaign, the Lebanese protesters have walked under banners such as "All of them means all of them," in reference to the corruption of all politicians without exclusion.

The move has confused and scared many politicians because the campaign - mostly referred to as "YouStink" - that started as a protest demanding a solution for a garbage crisis, has revealed what really stank in Lebanon, and that is the whole political system.

Protesters are now demanding real political change that would threaten the positions of all political leaders with no exception.

Politicians in Lebanon are worried to see a populace united against sectarian and social divisions that guaranteed their leaders would consolidate their grip on power and fill their pockets by using taxes and resources as their private bank account. The people are telling the corrupt politicians that they are united, equal, and fed up.

Panicking politicians have tried to discredit the campaign, calm it down by promising "national dialogue" between bickering leaders, attributing the movement to a partisan group and saying that it is funded "by a foreign entity" - or supporting it and hijacking it from the inside.

"Why the Lebanese protesters should be cautious" - read Zana K Gul's commentary here

Not this time. Videos, images, and interviews with protesters all over the media and social networks have proven that demonstrators are fed up with their leaders and are putting their demands for reform above their political or sectarian allegiances - for those who have any - risking their lives and jobs in the process.

The protests have also shown that many people believe in a secular society and are not afraid to say so in a mostly civilised way that does not infringe on others' rights of expression and belief.
     The people have united against what has ailed their country; they know exactly what they want and what is rotting in the state of Lebanon

The people of Lebanon don't want to rally behind the "old guard" to serve their political agendas, which have got them nowhere close to obtaining social justice or even basic needs for a decade now.

The people have united against what has ailed their country; they know exactly what they want. They know what is rotting in the state of Lebanon:

- A sectarian political system

- Dysfunctional politics

- Disregard of the constitution; a parliament that extends its own mandate, and a country without a president since May 2014

- Cronyism and bribery in all government institutions

- The destruction of culture and old buildings in favour of newly built high-rise buildings that benefit influential businessmen backed by corrupt officials

- The basic needs of the Lebanese (electricity, water, transportation, rubbish collection, communication) have become the main source of income for politicians

- A corrupt judiciary system

- A culture of impunity that sees criminals with connections to influential people escape justice

- Corrupt security agencies with a majority of members chosen by way of favouritism, cronyism, or according to their political and sectarian backgrounds

- Disregard for individual freedoms (freedom of opinion, speech, belief, information, sexual freedom, civil rights)

- Political misrepresentation

- Economic and social injustice

- Leaders who are serving foreign agendas

- Lawlessness

- Missing people with no information about their fates

- Oligarchic capitalism

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.