On the evening of October 2019, 17, riots broke out in Lebanon. In Beirut and all over the country, the crowd demonstrate in the streets, the roads are blocked. Tires and wooden boards are burned.
After the chouf region, it is the heart of Beirut that burns.
This uprising wave would have been caused by the government's announcement to impose a tax on calls made via internet messaging apps. If this announcement was the drop of water, the real breaking point between the Lebanese and their leaders is to be found in the failed economic situation and in the terrible disaster caused by the fires.
In question, the nonchalant attitude of the government to manage the disaster. On Monday morning, stunned Lebanese discover that the helicopters hadn't take off to contain and fight fire departures. All those responsible are throwing the buck to each other but no one seems to anticipate the roar that is rising in Lebanese homes.
In the wake of the national tragedy, the Lebanese in shock, are announced the implementation of a new "Whatsapp tax".
Quickly, a dozen young people go down the street, followed soon by hundreds. A Minister's body guard takes out his weapon, shoots in the air to remove the crowd. The red line is crossed.
All highways and main roads are blocked by a few young activists who burn tires, thus stifling the country's activity. Portraits of political leaders are trampled.
Lebanese of all confession (Shiites, Sunnis, Christian and druze), from all political levels are holding hands in chanting: "we are one".
Under pressure from the street, the decision is cancelled but the protesters hold their position. In a speech delivered on 18 October, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced that he and his partners will give an answer to the Lebanese within 72 hours. The assumption of a resignation is not to be excluded. Even suggested that he was ready to give up his place to another.
Far from calming the anger of the protesters, the speech stir it up.
"How could they settle in 72 hours what they have not settled in 15 years?" question Fares, student at AUB.
The Lebanese are infuriated. "The main word is to clear the whole political class," explains Benjamin Blanchard, director general of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient, currently in Lebanon.
In the evening, clashes occurs in the center of the capital and in Tripoli. "The party of the unmovable president of Parliament, Nabil Berri, in office for his sixth term, tried to disrupt the demonstrations either by infiltrating them, by provocation or by preventing people from getting there as it was the case in the south," continues Benjamin Blanchard. "These attempts have been in vain until then!"
On Television, a 60-Years-old resident of Tripoli invites his lebanese compatriots to "stay in the streets in order to overthrow the regime and the government. Politicians are corrupted."
In Lebanon, thirty years after the end of the civil war, the economic situation has not completely stabilized and the future of young people is a difficult question. Employment is high, life is very expensive. They don't want speeches or promises anymore, they want acts, and immediately. In front of the al-Amine Mosque, young hooded Men raise a sign "They must go all."
A few streets away, in the place Riad Solh, as a thick black smoke is rising from a bunch of burning garbage bins, a group of young people dance the Dabké. Others with plastic bag collect wastes. In a main street of the city, a young man sets his knee down to propose. The young woman agrees, the crowd around them makes her joy burst.
Everyone does their "Revolution" in their own way but all want the same thing: a future. "I don't want to have the same life as my parents, who have lived without anything for years", explains Joe, 26 years old.
On October 19, the Lebanese are still mobilized. François-Marie, head of mission in Lebanon, joined the families who came to protest in front of the government headquarters, to collect some testimonies. Here no smoke, no clashes, just lebanese flags, wave high in the sky. "We are very educated people but since we have no electricity and no water, the leaders do not get tired of us, we are forced to leave. Soon, there will be more refugees than Lebanese in this country," says a Lebanese.
For some, the wages are just enough to survive, have a roof and educate children. The lucky ones, who have a job, often struggle to sell their products because of the dearness of life. "I only pay $10.000 a year to study at University. I consider myself lucky," says Marc.
Currently, the association SOS Chrétiens d'Orient has had to stop most activities in Lebanon, schools are closed, access cut. All members of the association in Lebanon are safe. They follow the instructions given by the security services of the country, the French Embassy and the leaders of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient.