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.

Turkey’s Erdogan takes on former ally with foundation takeover

Updated 21 min 27 sec ago

Turkey’s Erdogan takes on former ally with foundation takeover

ANKARA: The Turkish government has taken over the management of a foundation set up by a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as hostility between the two men heats up.
Erdogan is punishing Ahmet Davutoglu, who is also former prime minister, for breaking away from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and launching a new rival party to appeal to  disillusioned voters.
Davutoglu co-founded the Foundation for Sciences and Arts (BSV) in 1986, but on Tuesday it was taken over by a government ministry-affiliated body.
The BSV said the decision was “arbitrary” and a “dangerous initiative.”
The government recently appointed a government official to the privately-owned Istanbul Sehir University, which is also affiliated with Davutoglu, after it failed to pay back loans to state-run Halkbank.
But Davutoglu has come out swinging despite the setbacks to his legacy. This week he criticized the government’s handling of the economy, alleging that Erdogan's team was manipulating inflation figures to paint a rosy picture.
“Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says ‘I'm dying,’ but the doctor says, ‘Look at the figures, your test results are fine.’ The economic administration in Turkey is doing precisely the same,” the former prime minister said.