2019 October Lebanon Revolution: What comes next?

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2019 October Lebanon Revolution: What comes next?

Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Nadine Haddad, Director of Social Media; Staff Writer

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On October 17, the people of Lebanon hit their final breaking point. After government officials announced a six dollar monthly tax on Internet voice-call services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, citizens spontaneously united to protest the political system that has been corrupt for over 50 years. 

Lebanon ranks 129th out of 141 countries in terms of equal distribution of income, and is the third highest indebted country in the world as of 2018. “We get nothing we pay for,” explains Lebanese citizen Dana Hammoud on The New Yorker. The electricity and water supply in people’s homes shut off constantly, families struggle to afford healthcare and people suffer from higher taxes on substances like gasoline and tobacco.

Naming themselves “the happiest depressed people you’ll ever meet,” Lebanese citizens demonstrated creative and unique forms of protest to showcase their sheer anger at the government. These methods include painting their faces as The Joker and shouting chants in Arabic to target certain political figures such as Gibran Bassil (President of the Free Patriotic Movement), forming a human chain across the entire country and even attacking the offices of several political parties: Hezbollah, Amal Movement and Free Patriotic Movement.

These protests led Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri to resign last Tuesday, plummeting the economy further into debt. The fDi Magazine suggests that as banks continue to shut down, the country is at risk of jeopardizing the dollar peg it has been maintaining, potentially devaluing its currency (the lira) and leading to further economic and political instability.

Some fear the potential consequences that may result from this revolution, as it is the first revolution in Lebanon since the 2005 Cedar Revolution, which resulted after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Others are hopeful to gain freedom from the political regime and wish solely to begin progressing together as a unified nation.

As a Lebanese American, I personally believe this revolution is one of the best things that has ever happened for the nation. Of course, slashing tires, burning buildings and having to cancel school for it is all too dangerous for everyone residing there, but that does not matter in the eyes of the Lebanese people.

In my eyes, this insurgence is relative to Suzanne Collins’ revolutionary novel, The Hunger Games. In the words of President Snow, “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear,” and it is awe-inspiring to know that the Lebanese finally have more hope now than they ever did in the last 50 years. They have so much that it has reflected on places across the United States, including Georgia. My cousins and I have even attended a few protests held in Downtown Atlanta to showcase our pride for our home country along with hundreds of other passionate Lebaense Americans. 

I used to visit Lebanon every summer since 2003, up until six years ago when the political and economic situation started going significantly downhill. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to pay a short visit this summer for the first time since 2011. I was both surprised and saddened by the way everything changed. I was not allowed to visit places in the South, I could not spend a night at the mountains due to a protest that led to four people getting killed and I could no longer visit the beaches I used to enjoy so much because they were consumed by trash and pollution.

Now, knowing how much the country’s overall wellbeing has transformed in the past few months, I do worry about the safety of the majority of my family that still lives in Lebanon. But I constantly remind myself that the October Revolution is a beacon of hope for the Lebanese, and I am optimistic towards what is yet to come.