Beirut Protests Mirror Worsening Economic Conditions of The Lebanese

Published December 3rd, 2019 - 10:46 GMT
Lebanese protesters gather to protest against tax increases and official corruption outside the Sidon branch of the Banque du Liban (Lebanese Central Bank) in southern city on November 30, 2019. Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP
Lebanese protesters gather to protest against tax increases and official corruption outside the Sidon branch of the Banque du Liban (Lebanese Central Bank) in southern city on November 30, 2019. Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP
“The downturn has dangerous repercussions on the social level,” says analyst.

Lebanese citizen Naji Al-Fulaiti hung himself on Sunday in his house in Arsal, after his 6-year-old daughter asked him for 1,000 Lebanese pounds ($0.66) for school, which he could not afford.

The news shocked his family. His relative Wahiba Al-Fulaiti told Arab News: “Naji was unemployed for two years. He used to work as a municipality officer. He also worked in a stone-cutting sawmill. He lost his wife to cancer and was indebted, owing 200,000 Lebanese pounds. He refused to borrow money from his brothers and he committed suicide.”

The incident provoked national indignation among activists in the civil movement, protesting against the widespread corruption in the authority, which has led to economic collapse.

Al-Fulaiti is not the first victim of the livelihood crisis in the country. 

Georges Zreik committed suicide in February after he failed to pay off his children’s school fees. When the school refused to provide the certificates required to move his children to a free school, Zreik set himself alight outside his children’s school.

Economic and political experts have warned that if the economic downturn continues, Lebanon will be facing further social crises.

Economist Jassem Ajjaka said: “The downturn has dangerous repercussions on the social level. Amid the lack of accurate statistics on the losses suffered by Lebanon, given the exaggeration in the current numbers due to political reasons, we can say that the worst is yet to come, unless a salvation government is formed soon.”

Ajjaka added: “If the government is set to stay on in a caretaker capacity amid the political obstacles hampering the formation of a new government, reactivating the government that the people had toppled will not be easy. 

“The question here is: Will the international community deal with it properly? I doubt it. 

“Relying on Gulf countries to provide urgent assistance to save the Lebanese economy is impossible due to the crisis of confidence.”

Ajjaka fears the repercussions of the crisis might lead to a “chaos and crime rise.” 

He said: “Every Lebanese that loses their job will most certainly join the protests.”

Lebanese President Michel Aoun received on Monday the newly elected head of the bar association Melhem Khalaf and his accompanying delegation.

Khalaf stressed during the meeting “the importance for the constitutional institutions to function properly and the need for the judicial authority to be independent and impartial to fight corruption.”

Khalaf called on Aoun to “adopt an urgent and rational approach to save the country, in accordance with the people of all ages and regions demanding change peacefully.”

Aoun said the movement “has eliminated a lot of red lines.”

However, the president also discussed “corrupt people protected by society,” considering that it is impossible to “prosecute people for corruption without proof and objection alone is not enough.” Aoun said: “Freedoms have reached chaos, and the freedom we have defended has crossed the limits and this is not acceptable.

“The economic and financial crisis has worsened due to accumulation over tens of years. Rumors today are stronger than the truth.”

In a press statement, head of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc Mohammed Raad said: “The crisis cannot be resolved unless a national unity government is formed according to the Taif Agreement. Otherwise, the country will remain under a caretaker government. All those refraining from carrying out their duties will be held accountable.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright: Arab News © 2020 All rights reserved.

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