Lebanon | 26 oktober 2020 | by Pim Gerritsen

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‘People are cynical’

PAX in Lebanon: A year after the revolution

On the 17th of October, anti-government protests in Lebanon marked a year since hundreds of thousands of people across Lebanon took the streets and demonstrated against the political elite, corruption and mismanagement of their country. A lot has happened since. The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Lebanon hard, with a drastic spike in cases over the past months. An enormous explosion took place in the Beirut port on August 4th, and the city, and Lebanon in general, is still recovering from it. All of this is happening in the midst of a political and economic crisis, and the living conditions of Lebanese of all social classes and all communities residing in Lebanon is deteriorating.

 A year ago, PAX was in Lebanon and stood with partners and friends during the revolution. Now, a year later, Line Rajab, working for the PAX Middle East team, is back in her home town, catching up with PAX partners, friends, family and activists.

 Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be in touch with her on a regular basis, hearing more about the current situation, and getting our partners’ and activists’ reflections who continue to be at the forefront of the struggle for dignity and justice.

 

Hi Line. How are you? How is it to be back in Lebanon?

I’m good. I’m currently quarantining in my uncle’s house which is really well equipped so that’s nice. I haven’t seen my parents yet unfortunately, as I haven’t been out, but I have friends visiting me (see picture). When I came to the apartment I could see and feel that things are different from when I left Beirut almost 9 months ago. I felt more despair somehow, unfortunately. I look forward to seeing everyone again after so long.

What are you planning to do while you’re there?

Well, I’m first quarantining and working from home. The next couple of weeks I’ll be in touch with our partners, catching up with them and visiting one of our partners in the South, in Tyre. I’ll be interviewing some of the youth PAX is working with, who will be participating in different sessions on activism and movement building in the frame of a PAX project. I want to understand better how they feel one year after the revolution, how do they see things unfolding and what is their role in the change that is happening in the country.

Saad Hariri was just appointed the prime minister designate. A year ago he resigned after weeks of anti-government protests.

Honestly, when I try to talk to friends and family about this people react only with dismay. As if whatever happens in the political arena is not significant at all. There is so much hatred and disapproval of what is happening. I feel people are in so much pain after all that has happened over the past year. And they’re still recovering from the explosion in August. It seems that they’re immune to events like this. They’re looking at things in an extremely cynical way. I hope with time, the energy will come back. Especially when Corona is more under control. You can see now that people are really concerned that the amount of cases are spiking. And actually, the elite is taking advantage of that. This is even more proof that the political class is completely out of touch with the reality of regular Lebanese.

Thanks Line. Good luck and we’ll be in touch!

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