Latest Lebanon protests fail to attract large crowds

AFP , Saturday 5 Sep 2015

Lebanese protests in Beirut (Photo: Reuters)

Only a small number of people turned out Saturday at demonstrations around Lebanon called by the "You Stink" group to protest what they call a corrupt and inept political class.

The collective had called Friday for demonstrations in the coastal city of Tyre and in Zrariyeh, both in southern Lebanon.

On Saturday around 300 people turned out in Tyre, an AFP correspondent said.

"We elected them MPs, and they have become wolves who are never satisfied," banners read.

"Thieves, thieves," people chanted.

Activists had also urged supporters to protest in the eastern city of Chtaura, the historic town of Beiteddine and Nabatiyeh and Marjayoun in the south.

But only a dozen or so turned out in Marjayoun, as was the case in the central town of Baakline.

The protest movement began in July when a landfill closed and pungent garbage started piling up in Beirut and its outskirts, but it has evolved into a broad-based organisation against government impotence and corruption.

Demonstrations organised by "You Stink" have escalated over the past two weeks, peaking last Saturday when tens of thousands flooded Martyrs Square in a rare display of non-partisan mobilisation.

Contrary to the traditional practice of people demonstrating at the call of one political party or religious group, "You Stink" has cut across party and confessional lines.

In Tyre, a bastion of Shiite Muslim movements Hezbollah and Amal, demonstrators dipped their hands in red paint and then imprinted them on a large white sheet.

Organisers said this was to symbolise that they would not withdraw from the streets "until they obtain their rights, even if it costs them their lives".

Parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who belongs to Amal, has called for a dialogue of political leaders on Wednesday.

Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, has said he will not participate.

Meanwhile, "You Stink" has called for another massive demonstration the same day.

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