There have been questions overseas about our Lebanese law-enforcement in the streets of Lebanon during these days of uprise. Many are even feeling sorry for us because of the news out there speaking of “police brutality” and of “army cracking down on protesters,” and showing just the same few images of the very few incidents. They don’t want to show you the heartwarming reality occurring in our streets with our law-enforcement. If you are not on Instagram, that’s all that you see on google search.
So, here, we are going to do it for you so all the world gets to know the truth. Know this: Unlike all protests that usually occur in other countries, ours have been different in three main aspects: We’re doing it peacefully and cheerfully, we are united in masses as One, and our relationship with the law-enforcement has remained respectful, loving, and empathetic, from both sides.
That’s the aspect we want to show our readers from overseas today because both the people and the army believe that we are all in this together. They and their families have been enduring like everybody the harsh economic crisis. So, let’s take a look at what has been really happening on our streets with the Lebanese army and civil defense officers.
1. They love the citizens for protesting against corruption
Have you ever seen passionate protesters hoarded in front of the headquarter of a country’s #1 ruler and being offered water to drink and refresh themselves? I guess not. Only in Lebanon.
This video was recorded by a protestor in front of the Palace of the Lebanese Republic where Lebanon’s President dwells. Instead of being brutalized and pushed away, the army guards distributed bottles of water to them.
This video was also recorded by a protester as his peers chanted patriotic songs to the army officers, cheering to them, and bringing one of them on their shoulders, chorusing what translates into: “You are the brave… You are the brave…”
The facial expressions of this officer of the law say it all: Empathy, understanding, affection… By the time she was finishing her passionate lecture about how we are all in this together, and how the officers are as affected as the civilians, the officer had tears in his eyes. “Go wear a civilian outfit and come down [to the protest], together with us!” She urged them all.
From the people and with the people… A child wearing an army uniform is a strong statement from his family that their demands concern also the army officers, and that they are doing it also for them since they can’t.
With cheerful taghrid and flowers, this is how the Lebanese Army, sent on the protesters, were welcomed by them in Zgharta (North Lebanon). For those who are unaware of that cultural gesture of ours, the taghrid is done on special occasions in our villages to greet those we celebrate, including at weddings.
10. One of the most heartwarming and revealing interactions we’ve seen so far:
It all started with the officer shouting at the old man to push him away, “Come on, you’re [a senior] like my father!” And the man to confirm it, and remind him that we are all in this together, that the politicians have been making him as well suffer hunger. Being poked right at the painful truth, the officer went speechless and subdued for moments to then utter respectfully, “I’m at your order.” Which earned him a warm paternal kiss from the senior.
No occasion is missed for the Lebanese people to show their appreciation and respect to our army, even and maybe mostly in situations like this one when they are protesting against the ruling body. There have been numerous such instances where protestors have shown up with a bunch of flowers and distribute them to the officers with a “thank you,” and ya3teek el a3fyeh (God gives you strength).
12. They feel the pain and eagerness of the protesters
You see them here getting emotional by the civilian protests for a better Lebanon, for they know all these efforts include them as well. The message here written by a civilian warns his peers to abstain from attacking them, “Do not raise your hand or throw a stone [at him]. He didn’t vote [for the current politicians]. You did.”
For those abroad who don’t know, we Lebanese address a person of our army with the high honorable designation of Watan, which means homeland, for this is what they personify in our hearts and minds, and we love them and respect them for that. Here you see the protestors singing to them, “God be with you, O Watan.”
During these times of uncertainty and chaos, our army people have proven once again that they are the Watan. They have been behaving highly consciously towards the civilians who count on them to protect them, and that despite some incidents at the start of the protests that had caused casualties among them.
And they’ve been protecting the protesters and respecting the One flag they are carrying, that of our homeland. Remember, people of Lebanon, at all times: Koulouna lil watan, ya3neh Koulouna lil watan. All of us for the homeland!