Friday, February 15, 2008

So how many DID attend the Hariri demo?

Yesterday’s demonstration to remember Hariri and all the other martyrs had roughly a million people show up…at least that’s what everybody said. It seems that his ‘million’ is not really based on actual observation, but rather on more intangible matters, such as pride, prestige and the fact that a million just sounds really good. So, how many people DID actually attend?

Well, to find this out, you’d first have to get an overview of the location. Google is your friend and their Google Earth application gives you a clear satellite picture of downtown Beirut.

Next step would be to measure the size of the demonstration. I simply assumed that it covered the whole of Freedom Square. Google Earth provides a nice tool that measures out the length of a path, so I delineated Freedom Square and looked what Google told me. Turns out, the circumference of the demonstration yesterday was roughly 1,600 meter, see picture below.

Photo 1: Downtown Beirut with location of demo boxed in

An area with a circumference of 1,600 meter can be drawn as a rectangle of 400 meter by 400 meter. Likewise, it is easy to calculate the demonstration covered 400x400 = 160,000 square meter.

Now let’s assume you can put 3 people on each square meter. This is rather generous: draw a square meter on the ground and try for yourself if you can fit 3 people. Real cozy, but hey, it was Valentine yesterday, so let’s assume people were standing shoulder to shoulder.

The turnout would then be: 160,000 square meter x 3 people = 480,000 people only! Note that a more realistic assumption of 2.5 people per square meter would lead to only 400,000 people. That’s not even close to the million were mentioning.

Sure, there were people still flowing to the demonstration while it was in full swing. So let’s add them. From Downtown to Jdeideh is roughly 5.5 kilometer. Let’s make it easy and assume 6 kilometer. Now assume that every car takes up 5 meters of the road (when standing still, the moment the cars start driving the distance between cars becomes much more) and let’s assume the cars were 5 lanes wide. Also, let’s assume every car had 5 passengers and that there were in total 3 roads leading towards Beirut like this. So how many people would have been stuck in traffic?

Easy: (6 kilometer / 5 meter) x 5 lanes x 5 passengers per car * 3 roads = 90,000 people were stuck in traffic. Again, these assumptions are rather generous, but hey, let's burst the bubble as softly and nicely as we can.

In total this would mean that 480,000 + 90,000 = 570,000 people attended or tried to attend the Hariri demonstration. That’s still quite far from the 1 million. Not that this little fact would matter much in Lebanon. Like three years ago, the demonstration yesterday will also go down in history as the 1 Million people demo.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the demonstration overfilled freedom square by several hundred meters from all sides.

And the cars backed up were not of 6 kilometers but 20 kilometers. Last but not least, one of the reasons why the cars were backed up that far is that people used the highways ... to walk.

Nice try, but orange propaganda has failed you.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, the demonstrators were probaly less than 100,000. They are truly a minority, and nothing more than a minority.

Accordingly, and pursuant to March 8 rules, the minority should be granted the "veto guarantee third" of the cabinet portfolios, including, but not limited to the following portfolios: interior, finance, defense, labor, justice, and foreign affairs; the final say in the nomination of the head of all security agencies, the presidency of the parliament,veto power over the name of the president of the republic, the inalienable right to dictate to the president elect his program, the sole and exclusive right to declare war on any state they choose to, whenever and however they want, without having the need to inform anyone else, and last but not least, the sole right to select all state employees in all the ministries exisiting and to be created (as the need arises).

I think the minority can live with that, how about you?

Anonymous said...

See the closeup at

Anonymous said...

fuck orange and HA propaganda

Anonymous said...

is this all u can do? count? u should be smarter than that in commenting on the event. And three years ago u were not with us there? before u realize that u're too much of woos to stay in the battle

Ace said...


This is almost verbatim what lfmp and Tayyar posted.

You should give credit where credit is due.

frenchy said...

Based on the NNA (National News Agency) cars and bus numbers as i stated on my blog
you re getting half of the numbers

Anonymous said...

what's your sampling error and standard deviation?

Anonymous said...

i strongly agree with you Riemer, but lets not talk numbers as somebody commented. this was supposed to be a sad memory reminding us of the tragedy that took place 3 years ago. they turned it into a joyful event to be able to get political stands by selling hariri's blood to foreigns.thank God there are parties in Lebanon who have eyes wide openned to conspiracies.shame on those who have no moral values!

Anonymous said...

...and your point is ?