What promises to be Lebanon’s biggest secular and non-partisan protest is set to take place tomorrow in Downtown Beirut at 6:00PM under the slogan: YouStink, addressing all of Lebanon’s ruling class.
This isn’t to those of us who are protesting tomorrow; this is to those who are hesitant.
We should go because the trash is piling up in the streets of Beirut again:
You should go because that wall they built for 24 hours in Downtown Beirut is the clearest indication on how dissonant our political system is from us as a Lebanese citizens.
We should go because it would be disgraceful to have these heroes in the forefront of the protest, and not have us to back them up:
We should go because every single politician in this country has has made us feel alienated, has made sure we felt that we didn’t belong in the confines of our own homes. All of them means all of them:
We should go because our government is 3 degrees of barbed wire separation away from us:
We should go because the Speaker of Parliament gave orders to kill on Saturday.
We should go because a system where neither politics nor institutions are working is not a system worth maintaining.
Many of us are worried about the protests turning violent. But know this: there will be so many people tomorrow that the security forces will not do anything funny. I also have first hand confirmation from the Minister of Interior Affairs, Nohad el Machnouk, that Lebanon’s security forces have been instructed to leave protestors alone.
If you’re still worried that the protests might turn violent after that, know that there are measures you can take to ensure your safety:
- Stay in groups of 5-6 people,
- If you get apprehended shout your name at the top of your lungs,
- Have a scarf ready with you along with a bottle of water in case tear gas is used. You can also have a can of Coke with you to use (it’s more efficient than water).
- Wear long pants that are not jeans to make it easier to run in case water cannons are used.
- Do not wear open shoes. Running shoes are best.
- When the protest turns violent, you can choose to leave.
If you’re worried about the protests being hijacked by Aoun or Hezbollah, it makes it the more your duty to go down, hold slogans against every single politician in this country to let them know that they aren’t a part of the problem, they ARE the problem.
If you’re worried about the protest becoming too anti-March 14, it makes it the more your duty to go down and tell your leaders that they aren’t only fucking up the country, that it’s not okay to fuck up your life as well.
If you’re worried about the protests’ demands not conforming with your political code, it makes it the more your duty to go down and make sure that your voice is heard, that your demands are not kept in the confines of a room in front of a TV set or a computer.
Why I’m Going:
I’m going down because for the second time in this country’s existence, I’ve found that there is a political cause I can wholeheartedly believe in, NOT to overthrow the government and NOT to overthrow Nohad el Machnouk.
I’m going down because for the first time in a very long time, I feel that there’s something in this country that’s inviting me in, that’s making me feel worthy as a citizen, that’s giving me value, that’s telling me I matter.
I’m going down because I’ve been let down over and over again by a political class that has proven again and again not to care about anything but itself, not to seek anything but its self-preservation.
I’m going down because it’s not okay not to have a president for more than 450 days, to have my voting rights stolen twice, not to have the basic rights that people across the World have in 2015.
I’m going down to shout for my basic right, as a Lebanese citizen, to live in a country where I can access power and have a say in how things are run. I’m going down to protest for my right to be represented, to have an electoral law that makes sure I get a say, that my voice is not squashed as it has been for the 25 years that I’ve existed in this country.
Odds are I will find many tomorrow who echo these same sentiments, and so will you. I’m not going down to bring the system down. I’m going to try and fix this bloody system. I do so not with hope, for that is a foolish thing to have in such things, but with enthusiasm fueled by the feeling that my voice finally matters.
If not tomorrow, then when will we stand up? When will we say enough is enough? When will we try to reclaim our own voice? It’s high time we do. See you in a few hours.