There’s a revolution happening in Lebanon

From a WhatsApp tax to an international movement

Zoë Lawen is a student at NSCAD and is working on a documentary about the Lebanese Revolution. - SUBMITTED
Zoë Lawen is a student at NSCAD and is working on a documentary about the Lebanese Revolution.

T here is a revolution happening in Lebanon that's resulted in the resignation of the country's prime minister.

On October 17, what started as a protest of just a few thousand people, quickly grew into millions worldwide—including Halifax— standing in solidarity. The Lebanese are taking to the streets to protest years of corruption, unbridled nepotism and bribery at the hands of long-reigning party leaders. After decades of abuse, the Lebanese have finally had enough.

The protest began in light of a nationally imposed $6 monthly tax on messaging app WhatsApp's calling feature. This tax pushed citizens over the edge following a series of blows from the government; an increase in discretionary costs of tobacco, wheat, gas and the government's failed attempt at controlling forest fires that devastated much of Lebanon's countryside.

But these are not the only issues, just simply recent developments. There's also a growing national debt, a crashing economy, an inflating currency and trade instability.

Really, the revolution is 30 years in the making.

The Lebanese, for the first time in decades, are coming together in non-sectarian protest. This is a cry for a new national identity—a Lebanon for all. Unlike current social structures, the movement prioritizes the person over their religious or political affiliation.

While Lebanon has always been a liberal nation, nothing speaks to its commitment for a stable, secular democracy more than these recent movements. From the most conservative to the most liberal, from the wealthiest to those riddled in poverty—all have taken to the streets demanding change for greater Lebanon.

Among beautiful moments of solidarity over the last two weeks, civilians created a 171,000-person human chain from Tripoli to Tyre—the length of the drive from Halifax to Pictou.

With violent protests unfolding all over the world, we need to see the example given by peaceful protests in this tiny Middle Eastern nation. In a world that's constantly trying to divide us, the Lebanese are standing united.

This historic moment is close to my heart. My mother and father immigrated from Lebanon years ago and my brother is an alumni from the American University of Beirut. I can't stop thinking about my friends and family, who are fighting for their rights at ground zero.

Since I am thousands of miles away, I decided to show my support by embarking on my own personal archive of the revolution, collecting data like videos, stories, social media posts and personal videos. The purpose of this video is to help expats like me gain a clearer picture of what's going on in the land we all call home.

A close friend of mine once rightfully noted: The essence of this revolution is giving a voice to the younger generation, who are tired of living with the ramifications of the civil war that our parents fought and lived through.

The Lebanese are proving not only to their government, but to the rest of the world, that love for humanity always wins.

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