Lebanon has been on the streets for days now, but then again, haven’t Lebanese been on the streets for years? We opened our eyes today to yet another empowering morning of Lebanese people united and taking their aspirations, visions, and hope to the streets along with their diaspora, their supporters as well as international governments all over the world. All while the Lebanese government has ultimately given up on reducing this protest to civic unrest that will blow over.
Despite that this Lebanese revolution is not by all means about the new tax attempt that triggered it, it is being nonetheless nicknamed on popular media outlets, and even on the official Wikipedia page of the 2019 Lebanese Protests: the Tax Intifada.
The nationwide movement, which has garnered support from the Lebanese Diaspora all over the world, persists to take on the government’s failure to find real solutions to a severe economic crisis that has lasted decades.
That in addition to a recent period of strain Lebanon has endured this past month with tax hikes spreading as fast as wildfire, and actual wildfires spreading even faster.
Whether a dollar crisis, or gas crisis, whether a wheat crisis or a natural disaster, the “Whatsapp tax” has been the least of Lebanon’s worries, and been the least of the population’s demands.
Lina Khatib, a reporter to Al Jazeera English, stated that the 2019 protests bypassed this sociological and sectarian divide even further than it did in the 2015-2016 protests. She defined them as “part of a genuine grassroots movement that has not been directed by any political party.”
Khatib viewed the protests as an “existential threat” to the “Lebanese government and political elite” and as a true “revolution.”
And, in a true Lebanese reaction in making a statement of unity, Muslims of different denominations have been praying together in Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque in Beirut “in brotherhood and solidarity.” That unusual stance truly shapes the non-sectarian nature of the protest and exemplifies that a political divide will not halt this protest anytime soon.
In footage released on Reddit social media platform, sneaked photos and videos from inside the Mosque depict Sunnis and Shiites praying side-by-side, as even Christians were invited to join them in prayer.
The Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, also referred to as the Blue Mosque, is a Sunni Muslim mosque located in downtown Beirut, and which was inaugurated in 2008. Following a significant donation by late Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the foundation stone for this grand mosque was laid in November 2002.
Often seen as quite the political and religious statement, holding prayers at this mosque, in particular, might be just the dose of discomfort our current Prime Minister needed to conclude his 72-hours.