Lebanon is burning! Nationwide protests paralyses life



Bureau Report

Beirut: Deteriorating economy, high inflation and devaluation of local currency made Lebanese go crazy. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to rods and streets , protesting against the government which has been left with no option other than using force against the protesters.

Protests which began on Thursday night and gradually engulfed entire the Lebanese Republic,, a Muslim country of 6.849 million majority Muslim population in Western Asia bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea.

With neighboring countries closely watching situation, reports coming out of Beirut quoted witnesses as saying that protesters set fire to roadways and clashed with security forces on a second night of unrest on Friday.

Protests erupted on Thursday in several Lebanese cities after a crash in the pound currency, which has lost about 70 percent of its value since October, when Lebanon was plunged into a financial crisis that has brought mounting hardship.

The pound appeared to halt its slide on Friday after a government announcement that the central bank would inject dollars into the market on Monday.

However, protesters returned later on Friday for a second night, throwing fireworks and stones at security forces in central Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli, prompting them to spray tear gas and rubber bullets to push them back.

Reporting for ‘Vice’ Tim Hume, a veteran journalist reported that Lebanese protesters hurled petrol bombs at the Central Bank and barricaded streets with burning tires Thursday night, in chaotic protests triggered by the country’s nosediving currency.

Angered by a collapse in the value of the Lebanese pound, which has slashed their purchasing power and compounded the country’s economic misery, thousands took to the streets in cities across the country. Sporadic clashes broke out as demonstrators pelted security forces with stones and soldiers fired tear gas at crowds.

In the northern city of Tripoli alone, where the local branch of the Central Bank was set ablaze, more than 40 people were injured, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

The protests, which prompted Prime Minister Hassan Diab to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting Friday, were triggered by a sharp free fall in the value of the Lebanese pound, which hit new lows on the black market Thursday

“People have no work, no food to eat. They cannot buy medicines, nappies or milk for their children,” one protester in Beirut, Haitham, told AFP.

The Lebanese pound (also known as the lira), officially pegged at 1,500 to the US dollar for more than two decades, has lost more than 70 percent of its value since October, when the country slid into a worsening financial crisis. Its value dropped by 25 percent in recent days, with money changers reportedly selling dollars on the black market at a rate of 5,000 pounds.

Its a developing story. Stay tuned for updates

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