Protests In Beirut Clash With Police
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Politics and Activism

Protests In Beirut Clash With Police

Lebanese demonstrators face tear gas during recent protests.

Protests In Beirut Clash With Police
Al Jazeera

Marking the second day of mass demonstrations on Sunday, Aug. 23, protesters in downtown Beirut were met with tear gas and doused with water cannons by police.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam suggested he might step down after violent protests on Saturday. These are the largest in several years, due to what demonstrators deem a corrupt political system. The dysfunction stems from a lack of a functional president or parliament. Many camped overnight in Riad al-Solh square waiting for Salam’s response to Saturday’s police brutality.

Sunday, after angry protesters attempted to break barbed wire outside of government headquarters, police beat them with clubs and water cannons, occasionally hurling stones. Protesters also threw rocks and water bottles. Two riot officers were injured, and five protesters were injured in central Beirut. Once demonstrators were able to break through the barbed wire, forces fired tear gas scattering thousands away.

These protests started a month ago over garbage piling up on the streets after the main landfill was closed. Divided politicians were unable to agree where to dump the capital’s rubbish. The New York Times reports that previously, Beirut’s trash was sent to a landfill near Naimeh, south of the capital, “...but the amount of trash exceeded that landfill’s capacity. Protesters blocked the road to the landfill last summer, causing a pile up of garbage in Beirut.”

Civil society groups, including one calling itself “You Stink!” organized the rallies. They are now demanding the top politicians resign. Lebanon currently has a “sectarian power-sharing system” which often devolves into inaction. Some predict if the prime minister actually resigns, the country would fall further into anarchy.

In a television address Sunday morning, Salam said police would be punished for their violence, also calling an emergency parliament session on Thursday.

Al Jazeera mentioned The Lebanese Red Cross reported at least 15 civilians and 35 officers were injured during the protests on Saturday. Many Lebanese, usually divided by religion, have seemed to unite over the corrupt and paralyzed political system which has reached a boiling point.

Lebanese army units were deployed following the violence. Over 31 officers were injured, as well as 49 protesters, on Sunday night. The Red Cross later reported that one protestor has been killed, as the fighting continues on.

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