Think back a few months to a dark time in Lebanon this July, when a sanitation worker strike led to literal piles of trash throughout the capital Beirut.
But for thousands of Lebanese protesters who took to the streets of downtown Beirut Saturday, the trash crisis is only the most obvious sign of an ineffective government wrought with corruption and in need of change.
Though the stinky saga lasted only a week until sanitation workers resumed pick up, Beirut residents are still dealing with its after-effects over a month later, a slow response they say stems from a government body that’s as stale as the situation itself.
What transcended was the most violent demonstration Lebanon’s seen in years. Some 75 protesters were injured when police responded with water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas, according to the Daily Star, while some witnesses even reported live fire. Meanwhile, security forces said some 35 of its members were also injured, but rights groups say this is a gross exaggeration. Human Rights Watch condemned what it deemed excessive force on the part of the government, saying it 'failed to uphold human rights standards' during an otherwise peaceful demonstation.
The action on the ground were backed online by the worldwide trending hashtag #طلعت_ريحتكم (#You_Stink) on Twitter. By Sunday, an English equivalent had taken form.
Whether this foreshadows a larger political change isn’t clear yet, but it does show that after months of stink in the streets and — according to some — in government offices, Beirut’s not quiet.
Here's some of the Twitter responses below.
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