Protests in Lebanon

This item appears on page 20 of the December 2019 issue.

Protests in Lebanon that began in mid-October against a proposed tax on messages sent on the WhatsApp phone app turned into larger antigovernment protests after that tax plan was scrapped.

Protesters have demanded governmental reforms, including reshaping how the government is organized. Currently, government officials are each appointed based on their religion or sect, a practice put in place to ensure that all of the religious minorities in Lebanon have representation. However, Lebanese citizens have said that that form of government encourages inaction and nepotism.

One group with representation in government, Hezbollah (considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU), has encouraged its followers to attack protester positions, leading to at least one instance in which a protester camp was destroyed and people were injured.

On Oct. 29, Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, announced he would resign in order to allow the people to elect a new government.