Students swell Lebanon protest movement

BEIRUT: Thousands of students took to the streets across Lebanon yesterday to demand a better future as an unprecedented anti-government protest movement entered its fourth week and continued to spread.

Waving Lebanese flags, students and high school pupils massed in front of the education ministry in Beirut to voice their grievances against a political class seen as corrupt and incompetent.

“I challenge any politician or official to send their children to state schools,” one pupil told a local television channel.

“The economy is in trouble, there is no work, how will we survive in the future?.”

Lebanese students wave national flags and chant slogans as they gather in an anti-government demonstration in the southern city of Sidon (Saida) on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Groups of students gathered elsewhere in Beirut and in other cities, the latest boost to a mobilisation that has been relentless since the protests erupted on October 17.

Students in the coastal
towns of Jounieh and Chekka gathered in front of the gates of the national telecommunications operator to block access, the state-run National News Agency reported.

The rallies have created a rare moment of national unity in a country often characterised by its divisions.

People of all ages and sects have gathered daily to demand better services, a crackdown on corruption and the wholesale removal of an elite they say has been ruling Lebanon like a cartel for decades.

What started as a spontaneous, apolitical and leaderless popular movement, is becoming increasingly organised, with activists coming together to synchronise marches and stunts across the country.

Demonstrators blocked employees from clocking in for work at the electricity utility’s headquarters in Beirut Thursday, in protest at the abysmal quality of the mains electricity supply. – AFP