“Post-October 17th is not like pre-October 17th” has become a popular saying that reflects the effects that this date has had on Lebanon, especially on its political life. The Lebanese revolution of October has evidently changed the rules of the political game.
It has done so through the collective willpower of the people and the effectiveness of their determination to stir change in a country that has grown rotten with familiar political faces and empty promises.
The revolution, since its very first day, has breathed life and invigorating hope back into the Lebanese people.
Decades of living under the greedy grips of the conflicting dynasties in Lebanon had made the people believe that they had no other choice and that the ruling politicians will continue to tug on the ends of the country – ripping it apart slowly – forever.
That was the case until October 17th snapped them out of their lethargic submission.
The seas of people that flooded the streets, rocked the high chairs and shook off those stuck unto them, proved that the original source of authority is still able to take back the helm… And indeed, it did just that.
For weeks straight, the Lebanese uprising was the central talk for the local media, as well as a wide portion of the international media.
The majority of Lebanese people, whether in Lebanon or among the diaspora, were either marching, demonstrating, yelling, petitioning, and participating in human chains, or glued to their TV screens and watching these protests take place.
For weeks straight in Lebanon, the revolution was everything.
The roars of the people, who have had enough of the tyranny, have achieved so much in over 2 months of protest:
The resignation of the government, the unprecedented commencement of a serious battle against corruption, the independence of the Beirut Bar association, and consequently – and ironically – pressing the authority to respect and properly enforce the law in many instances.
Of course, the revolution has not achieved everything it had set out to achieve. But, unlike what might seem to be the case currently, the revolution is certainly not over. On the contrary, it is stronger than ever.
For some reason, almost certainly a political one, the media in Lebanon lately has not been properly covering the events of the uprising as they should – and did during the first 2 months or so after October 17; even though the sit-ins are still in place and the daily rallies have not ceased.
Instead, the center of attention has shifted to the new Prime Minister and his ongoing strive to form a new government to replace the one that resigned and, hopefully, to comply with the demands of the people in the streets.
That is not to say that such a political event does not deserve the air it’s getting. But to give it all the air, all day long, and to deprive the protesters their right to be covered and their message to be delivered is, to put it mildly, unfair.
On the contrary: It is now, more than ever, that the protesters need to have their voices heard.
It is now, more than before, that they see it important to give their opinions on the upcoming government and the progress of its formation. After all, they are the sole reason behind the need to form a new government.
Therefore, it is a must that their opinions and criticism be listened to by PM Diab, who himself said upon being appointed in December that he supports the demands of the revolution.
He promised the revolutionaries that “the situation will not return to what it was before the popular movement.” However, the almost-done formation of the next government seems to be heavily influenced by the same ruling class of pre-October 17.
Almost 20 days have passed since Hassan Diab’s appointment and the new cabinet has not seen the light of day yet… It surely isn’t supposed to take that long to form, unless some hurdles are in the way.
Unsurprisingly, a terrible hurdle has been the reason behind the delay. That hurdle is the apparently plentiful disagreements among the sects in the course of formation.
Disagreements over the shape of the new government, the names of the new ministers, their distribution among the ministries, and more of the classic Lebanese political debates.
The media in Lebanon has been so keen on investigating these conflicts and racing to leak all-new information about the progress of the government.
So keen that they forgot or, more likely, pretended to forget that the revolutionaries, whom they so eagerly praised and supported in the first several weeks, are desperately trying to be heard amidst all the political noise.
The revolution is not over. The authority is trying, as it has been since day one, to make it seem so in order to be able to resume control over Lebanon as if the past 83 days did not happen.
They have an influence over the media just as they do over most things in the country, and they seem to have begun using that influence to their advantage.
Just this past Sunday, January 5th, a great number of protesters marched towards and demonstrated near the parliament building in Beirut.
However, most Lebanese news channels did not do the protest justice with their coverage; it was very poor and brief although the protest was massive.
But we live in the golden age of speed and technology, where every individual can easily become a human broadcast station.
In that position, it has become the job of every protester to show the world through their phones and voices, that their revolution is still alive and persistent.
Social media has had an enormously positive effect on the uprising from its very beginning, not to forget that it was the very spark that caused it in the first place.
Through the collective use of social networks and live video streaming, the apparent media blackout is being overcome by the people for the people.
It would be a shame to let the false picture of a fading uprising overshadow the reality of the unabating determination within the revolutionaries.
The people are not allowing it, especially when the battle for the nation is nearing its final stage with each day.
The Lebanese people can still take their country back from those who have drained it and destroyed it; it is in their -our- hands. As the revolutionaries chanted on Sunday in their march, “Revolutionaries, free people, our journey continues.”