Students burn history books as protests continue in Lebanon

Students burn history books as protests continue in Lebanon
Protesters chant slogans during recent rallies in Beirut, Lebanon. (Reuters)
Updated 22 November 2019

Students burn history books as protests continue in Lebanon

Students burn history books as protests continue in Lebanon
  • “Why don’t they teach us about Lebanon’s current situation and the role of our generation in change?”

BEIRUT: Dozens of Lebanese students in Beirut headed to the Ministry of Education to demand the modernization of school curricula and the development of public schools. They set fire to their history and geography books — as one of them said, “We learn information that does not resemble us. Why don’t they teach us about Lebanon’s current situation and the role of our generation in change?”

People with special needs gathered in Riad Al-Solh Square in central Beirut to demand respect for their rights, holding signs that read “Freedom and dignity for all, in a nation for all.”

They called for a ministry for people with special needs, social protection, integration in schools and in all departments and sectors, accessible sidewalks, the provision of medicine, healthcare, housing, the respect of their right to work and their inclusion in the drafting of public policies and political decisions.

On the eve of the country’s Independence Day, peaceful protesters in the streets awaited President Michel Aoun’s address on Thursday night. Sarcasm dominated social media as they expressed their fear that Aoun might “ask them to commit suicide,” after he had asked them to emigrate in a previous televised interview on Nov. 12. His words back then outraged protesters and fuelled the protest that have been going on for 36 days over corruption and new taxes.

Since Saad Hariri’s government resigned on Oct. 29, the formation of a new government has posed difficulties. This is mainly due to the disagreement between Saad Hariri, who wants to lead a technocratic government that satisfies protesters and gains the confidence of the international community, and President Aoun and his allies, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, who insist on a techno-political government.

Press reports say that President Aoun and his allies might resort to forming a government without Hariri’s Future Movement.

“The President’s role is conciliatory in order to achieve a breakthrough in this crisis and rapidly form a government,” said MP and Secretary General of the Strong Lebanon bloc, Ibrahim Kanaan, noting that “a dialogue between the political parties and the civil movement is required to overcome the crisis. Nobody has an interest in Lebanon turning into a battle field. Bold decisions in the right direction are therefore required as well.”

The Army Commander, Gen. Joseph Aoun, addressed soldiers saying: “The military establishment unites all the citizens of this nation regardless of their orientations and views. You responsibly and professionally executed the mission entrusted to you despite the fact that your military mission is to face the enemy, Israel, which violates our sovereignty daily, and terrorism, which takes advantage of any opportunity to strike civil peace and cause strife.”

He called on soldiers to “keep away from rumours and not allow political tensions to keep you from carrying out your duties.”

Hezbollah and the Amal Movement blamed security forces and the Lebanese army for failing to facilitate the MPs’ access to the parliament’s legislative session last Tuesday.

As the military parade has been cancelled for this year’s Independence Day, protesters are preparing for a civil parade in Martyrs’ Square on Friday.

Protesters in the southern region of Nabatieh stopped a traditional visit by representatives of the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Parliament to Shkif Castle. It was in this castle in that the French mandate arrested the then President, Bechara El-Khoury, PM Riyadh Al-Solh, Ministers, Salim Takla, Adel Osseiran, Kamil Chamoun and MP Abdul Hamid Karami on Nov. 11, 1943, for their activities to achieve independence. It later released them on Nov. 22, which became Lebanon’s independence Day.