“Even through harsh times, we know how to live. This is what makes us Lebanese.”
- by Sally Farhat– Source: Annahar
BEIRUT: If there’s anything the Lebanese know how to do best, it would be living each and every moment regardless of how bad the situation is.
The country marked today it’s eighth day of the strike. Rain, political pressure, and in some cases fifth columns were not able to drift people away from their demands: the need for government resignation, early elections, and the formation of a technocrat government.
“We demand basic human rights, we want a fair election, we want jobs for our sons and daughters. I want my son to stay in Lebanon after graduating. I have a right not to die at the doorsteps of the hospitals because my insurance does not cover all expenses,” Raed Moussa, a teacher protesting, told Annahar. “We are demanding what is ours. We want our Lebanon back.”
Protesters told Annahar that they might not know how long the revolt will last, but if they are sure of one thing, then it’s the fact that they won’t leave the streets until all their demands are met.
“It’s too late for us to leave the streets now, we will stay here,” Hasan Ajami, a student from the Lebanese University, said. “They don’t understand how serious we are when we say we are not leaving before they do.”
Nonetheless, while they continue to connect their days and nights protesting their demands, the Lebanese are making sure to enjoy every moment: from holding classrooms in the middle of the protests to hosting small birthday celebrations and huge weddings.
“We got used to all the negativity in this country and accordingly, we learned how to see the positivity in the worst and that’s exactly why we can gladly protest today,” said Dunia Sakr and Ayman Ramadan, two young Lebanese students who organized a birthday party for their best friend in Martyr’s Square. “Even through harsh times, we know how to live. This is what makes us Lebanese.”
Leila Sidani, a protester who celebrated her birthday in the middle of a sprawling demonstration, explained to Annahar that these celebrations reflect the people’s joyful spirit. She explained that this is “the Lebanon” protesters are aiming for, one that dis-inhibits and reflects this spirit.
“I didn’t get to celebrate my birthday like I usually do, I celebrated it historically, which makes it even better,” Sidani told Annahar. “This is Lebanon. We can find happiness even in harsh moments. I used to say that I want to leave the country after I earn my bachelor’s degree, but this protest has planted hope in me and shown me the promise of a better future in the country.”
Aside from the birthday celebrations, the protests also witnessed three wedding celebrations in Aley, Jal el-Dib, and Martyr’s Square.
Malak Alaywe Herz, the woman who became the protest’s icon ever since she kicked one of Minister Akram Chehayeb’s guards on October 17, celebrated her marriage on October 23.
“Malak and her husband got married a while ago, but they didn’t have a budget to host a wedding celebration,” Nada Ayoub, one of Alaywe Herz’s friends, posted on social media. “Their friends made the couple’s dream celebration a reality.”
Jana Barakat attended earlier today her class on media law and ethics in Martyr’s Square.
“The material was very different from what we take in class, it was directly related to the protests and how we can protect ourselves if conflict arises during the strike,” Barakat said. “It was one of the best classes I have ever attended in my life.”
Sharif C. Abdunnur, PhD, the professor of media and film who hosted this class, explained that the aim of the class was to bring together all the students he teaches from different universities.
“I had sixty students from very different backgrounds, regions, and sects sit together. For the first time, I feel hopeful about Lebanon. The class today reflected the richness of our country and the diversity that makes it special,” he told Annahar.
Abdunnur also explained that all these small acts do not diminish the aim of the protests, but rather encourages people to participate.
“Entertainment helps. The diversity is beautiful. Enjoying the protest and reflecting a good image of our country is not negative. As long as we have the causes in mind, these acts cannot be seen as threats, but rather a mirror of the life the Lebanese are aiming for,” he added.
Chiri Choukier, Salma Yassine, and Elissa Hassan contributed to this article.