Protests Broke Out in Various Areas in Lebanon

zee.mchadd l nabilismail.photojournalist

Lebanese MPs held a legislative session on Tuesday, April 21st at the UNESCO palace in Beirut to decide on various matters, including legalizing the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes, which they agreed on.

The MPs were met with a large protest outside the Unesco palace, yet with no surprise from their side as they were expecting it.

The Lebanese people of the Revolution had announced on social media a few days earlier that a large car-march will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The parliament took hence measures that seemed extreme, as MP Nadim Gemayel pointed out:

“The scene upon our arrival to the Unesco palace was frightening. We saw civilians and non-civilians heavily armed, and we felt like we were entering a Militia center, not a Parliament.”

Details about who were the “armed civilians” at the parliament were not given and remain, as usual, subject to speculations among the people.

The UNESCO palace was not the only site of protests on Tuesday. Various broke out in several areas in Lebanon, like in the Martyrs’ Square in downtown Beirut, in Tyre, and in Metn, among others.

As apparent in the videos, most protested from inside their cars. Others went down to the streets while committing to social distancing measures. They all had their Lebanese flags on them.

It was relevant that the protesters planned their manifestations within the government’s new health measures, hence didn’t break any rules.

Each car didn’t carry more than two people. All protesters had face-masks on. Very few people stepped out of their cars.

And all cars’ license plates were even numbers, abiding by the Interior Ministry’s new rule of traffic rationing.

During this legislative session, the MPs agreed on an Anti-Corruption Law for the public sector and on the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission, as reported by the joint committees.

Exemption from value-added tax has been approved on donations from public administrations, institutions, and municipalities to help face COVID-19, subject to obtaining cabinet approval.

They also approved on appending progressive judges to the judges’ salary series.

Speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri responded to the protesters against spending on the judges’ salaries by saying: “Go search for the stolen money instead of depriving a few judges of their rights.”

The statement, which was issued right after the decision on Anti-Corruption Law, incited a series of comments on the purpose of that law and on whether Speaker Berri believes it is now on the people to “search for the stolen money.”

During the session, President Hassan Diab proposed to withdraw the $4.9 million loan from the International Bank for Agricultural Development. The parliamentary blocs were divided on the subject.

As for the revolutionaries, they are still making plans to continue within the health and safety measures.

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