Young Lebanese protesters share their spirited messages

Protesters chant slogans during ongoing protests against the Lebanese political class, as riot police stand guard in front of Finance Ministry building in Beirut, Lebanon, on Friday. (AP)
Updated 30 November 2019

Young Lebanese protesters share their spirited messages

  • Despite efforts to demonize them, activists stick to message of peace

BEIRUT: Activists in the civil movement in Lebanon have stuck to the peacefulness of their protests, despite attempts to demonize them by the political forces.

The best example of this peacefulness was the reaction of Farah Merhi, 30, after her car was torched aggressors in Riad Al-Solh and Martyrs’ Square. “I did not feel angry or frustrated, I just smiled,” she told Arab News.

Farah’s smile was transmitted by social media as she stood by her torched car, a Datsun, which she bought by installment ten years ago when she worked as an accountant. Farah used to drive her car every day to go to work, as she lives in the mountains, and it was her only method of transport.

Farah said that she was keen on parking her car last Saturday in a secure area. Supporters of the “Amal Movement” and Hezbollah attacked in the evening and torched tents, shops and cars in the streets neighboring the squares. When she came back to her car the following morning, she found it burnt.

Farah’s cousin started a social media account calling for $10,000 of donations to buy a car for her. In less than 24 hours, 50 percent of the amount was raised. Farah said that the “donations came from people I know and those I do not know in and out of Lebanon. It was really touching. The amount now exceeds $10,000 and I am astonished by the love shown to me.”

She said that she is participating in the protests to call for a “decent life for the people, away from politics, I am not against anyone but I am demanding human rights.”

While activists were lifting debris from the squares the day after the aggression, they adorned their tents and Farah’s torched car with flowers.

Many other stories from the revolutionary squares have been gathered in a newspaper titled “October 17,” which refers to the day when the revolution broke out in Lebanon. The newspaper was issued on Friday with 16 pages. Its front page was covered with a photo of activists, captioned: “I am the people who knows nothing is impossible.”

Inside, readers discovered articles and activist stories — including one titled “the people who is getting back its country” — and another on “the sanctity of the leader when it gets shaken.”

Bachir Abou Zayd, 27, one of the founders of the newspaper, told Arab News: “I am a cinema director and was part of the movement from the beginning. The idea of issuing the newspaper was agreed on with five friends and Ibrahim Halawi, a university professor in London who we are in contact with.”

He added: “we aim to record what is going on in the squares and the achievements of the revolution, so that the newspaper reflects the experiences of the various activist groups so that we could formulate one voice that expresses all opinions.”

Abou Zayd, from Kfar Roummane, noted that “the newspaper was produced in collaboration with media and social activists, and that the only condition to write in it was for the article not to have a political background or direction, everyone is free to have his own beliefs but we want something that expresses everyone’s opinions.” It was estimated to cost between $1,000 and $1,500 for 3,000 copies.


US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

Updated 10 August 2020

US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

  • Iran-backed militias renege on agreement to allow UN inspectors aboard stricken vessel holding 1.4 million barrels of oil

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The US blasted Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on Sunday for reneging on a deal to allow UN teams to board a rusting oil storage vessel that threatens an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

The FSO Safer has been moored 7 km off the coast of Yemen since 1988. It fell into Houthi hands in March 2015, when they took control of the coast around the port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis briefly bowed to pressure last month and agreed to allow a team of UN engineers to visit the ship, before changing their minds and restating their previous demands for the revenue from the oil. As the vessel’s condition deteriorates there are fears that the 1.4 million barrels of oil it contains will start to seep out.

“The Houthis have failed to follow through on their agreement to allow a UN team on to the Safer,” the White House National Security Council said on Sunday.

“They are courting environmental and humanitarian disaster by obstructing and delaying. For the good of Yemen and the region, the Houthis must allow the UN aboard the Safer.”

A recent water leak into the tanker’s engine prompted warnings of a major disaster.

“The time has come for a resolute response for an outcome,” the Yemen Embassy in Washington said on Sunday. 

“There cannot be more delays or deliberations. UN inspectors must immediately access and assess the Safer oil tanker even without Houthi permission.”

The UK echoed its concerns. “There is another floating disaster off the Yemeni coast with potentially as massive an ecological footprint as the shockwave that engulfed Beirut,” former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said. “The politics preventing safe evacuation of the oil must stop immediately.”