Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gearing up for a huge demonstration

The last few days, Lebanese leaders of March 14 have started to rally their followers to participate in the upcoming demonstration on Thursday, February 14. Purpose of the demonstration is to honor Rafiq Hariri who died three years ago on that day and to plea for an independent (read: free from from Syrian/Iranian influence) Lebanon.

No doubt it will be huge, but there is also a feeling among people I've talked to that they're just fed up with it all. Back in 2005, it was truly a demonstration for freedom. The pro-Syrian Karami government had just fallen two weeks before on Feb 28, the Syrian soldiers had left the country and to top it all, Hezbollah had just organized a "Farewell"-demonstration to thank the Syrians, which many Lebanese saw as oppressors.

Back then, the mood was right for a huge counter-demonstration to show Hezbollah that they and their Syrian friends are not the one running the country. But now, three years later, things have changed. That Paul Simon song captures the current mood in Lebanon quite well:

"And I don't know a soul who's not been battered
I don't have a friend who feels at ease
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered
or driven to its knees"

People here feel that the upcoming demonstration is basically a pissing contest between kids-cum-politicians and that they're played as chips in some kind of poker game. Let's raise the stakes one more time, why don't we? Not that it matters much, but that's all they are capable of. What doesn't help either is the perception, especially among March 14 Christians, that this demo will be all about Hariri. He was the first, but certainly not the only martyr, or so their reasoning goes.

Still, despite such feelings, have no doubt that many people will attend. Not the least because of all the efforts being put into getting everybody down to Beirut. From the tiniest villages, free transportation is organized. Also, the government has given everybody one day off. I wonder if they would do the same if March 8 would call for a demonstration sometime later.

Below are some pictures of the many banners and posters that have appeared in Beirut during the weekend, with hopefully correct translations:

Photo 1: "Go down, they won't come back. They will not get our Lebanon"

Photo 2: "2008: Go Down, they won't come back. They will not get our Lebanon"

Photo 3: "2005: We went down, they withdrew. They will not get our Lebanon"

Photo 4: "They will not get our Lebanon"

Photo 5: And my favorite..."The Hamra Association will not forget the one who saved lives as well as the economy"


Ace said...

Those who are "fed up" should do what they do best. Keep their mouths shut, head buried in the sand, and wait for "stability" to come back to Lebanon. They can then happily complain about the "stability". Sounds like the best plan to me.