- "Revenge, revenge, until this regime reaches an end," shouted protesters from all walks of life.
- One of the posters read that the nation’s leaders were corrupt and now they are also criminals.
- With red eyes, coughing and weeping, the young people retreated, but kept shouting.
Thousands of Lebanese took to the streets Saturday in anger against the nation’s authorities, whom they accuse of being solely responsible for the explosion Tuesday that killed many people and destroyed property in Beirut. Put simply by one protester, “the people want revenge.”
“There is hatred and there is bad blood between us and our authorities,” said Najib Farah, a 35-year-old protester in central Beirut. “After three days of cleaning, removing rubble and licking our wounds,” said Fares Halabi, a 28 year-old activist, “it is time to let our anger explode and punish them.”
“Revenge, revenge, until this regime reaches an end,” shouted protesters from all walks of life, while waving signs with the names of some of the nearly 150 people killed in the explosion. A huge banner carried their names.
One of the posters read that the nation’s leaders were corrupt and now they are also criminals. For the Lebanese, who are already bearing the brunt of the economic and political crisis, the tragedy that caused more than 150 deaths and 6,000 injuries was yet another massive blow.
“Them or Us”
“We can’t take it anymore: we’re being held hostage, we can’t leave the country, we can’t withdraw money from the banks, and people are dying of hunger,” said Médéa Azoury, a 45-year-old protester.
On top of all that, “there are now 300,000 people who are homeless and Beirut has been completely destroyed,” she added. “This is the great return of the revolution and it’s either them or us,” she stated.
A section of the crowd also carried posters with signs against the pro-Iranian Shiite movement, Hezbollah, a major political force in Lebanon, which some hold responsible for the catastrophe, although the group denies it.
“Hezbollah, terrorist!” shouted a section of the protesters. “We are tired. They took everything from us, we no longer have dreams or a future, we no longer have dignity, money or a home,” laments Rita, 33.
While Holding a broom, one of the protesters, Jad, a 25-year-old advertising professional, lamented that the state was nowhere to be seen in the huge and ongoing cleanup effort across the city. “Everything is trashed, we have had to repair the streets for three days, while there is no government presence at all,” he complained.
In the direction of the Parliament, groups of young people threw stones and pieces of wood, while the police responded with tear gas in an attempt to disperse them. With red eyes, coughing and weeping, the young people retreated, but kept shouting, “the people want the regime to fall.”
The massive explosion that flattened a section of the city and shocked the world is widely believed by many Lebanese to be a consequence of the incompetence and corruption that have come to define Lebanon’s ruling class, hence the anger that triggered the demonstrations.
The terrible explosion killed over 150 people, wounded 6,000, and left an estimated 300,000 totally displaced and homeless.