Last Thursday, in response to Lebanese government plans to impose new taxes on gasoline, tobacco, and some social media platforms and apps, protesters gathered near the parliament building in Beirut.
Riot police were dispatched to confront them, and the bodyguard of a Lebanese official opened fire at protesters.
Demonstrations spread outside of the capital city and across most of the country.
Protestors echoed the 2011 Arab Spring chant: “The people demand the fall of the regime.”
Angry at the failure of the government to deliver on its promise of economic reforms, tens of thousands of protesters demanded a total overhaul of the country’s political system.
The streets became filled with demonstrators, and videos streamed online showing flaming barricades and huge crowds marching against the government.
Lebanese people across the diverse religious and political spectrum are calling for the prime minister, president, and other leaders to resign, citing corruption and a failure to deal with the long-standing economic crisis.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he’s waiting for his coalition to approve measures such as taxes on banks and a plan to fix the deteriorating electric grid.
Lebanon’s finance minister, trying to appease the growing anti-government demonstrations, announced that the final budget would not include any tax hikes or rise in fees.
Unemployment for those under 35 has been close to 37 percent.
Over the weekend, four ministers from the Lebanese Forces Party, which had been an ally of Prime Minister Hariri, resigned from his cabinet.
The leader of that party stated, “We are convinced that the government is unable to take the necessary steps to save the situation.”
Banks, schools, and local businesses were closed as protests entered their fifth day.
And despite the Lebanon Cabinet approving reforms, a nationwide general strike has been called.