Lebanon: Shia woman says she will be targeted for expressing her ‘free opinion’

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A video of a Shia Lebanese protester criticizing the government went viral on social media after she claimed that she will be targeted for what she said as soon as she returns to Dahieh, a predominantly Shia Muslim suburb south of Beirut.

“As soon as I arrive in Dahieh, I will be subjected to many things because of my free opinion – shame on them,” the protester told Sawt Beirut International.

“You are Shia and you’re protesting against us,” the woman predicted she would be told. “I am Shia and I would protest against my mother if she usurps the rights of the people,” she said as a preemptive reply.

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Lebanese across the country have raged at the country’s sectarian leaders who have failed to form a government since the last cabinet stepped down in mid-August after the massive explosions at the Beirut port. The country is currently in the midst of its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, and around half of the population now lives below the poverty line.

Bringing her children with her to protest, the woman said that every politician in Lebanon is a “dictator” and a “war criminal,” adding that the country doesn’t need these parties, but rather needs one brave president.

Lebanon has been governed by the same ruling elite since the end of the civil war when former warlords turned in their arms, becoming politicians – Hezbollah refrained from turning in its weapons.

Emmanuel Macron, president of Lebanon’s former colonial power France who has led international efforts to offer support, also rebuked politicians after his initiative faltered when Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim named on August 31, stood down amid sectarian squabbling for ministerial posts. The ruling elite have yet to signal how they will solve the crisis in a nation where politics relies on power-sharing between Christian and Muslim sects.

Adib’s efforts to form a cabinet of non-partisan ministers ran into the sand after Lebanon’s two main Shia groups, the Amal Movement and the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah, demanded that they name several ministers, including the finance post.

With politics deadlocked and the economy crushed by debt, Lebanon’s pound took a further dive, adding to the pain of citizens, many of whom have struggled to make ends meet since the economic crisis erupted last year.

People are “dying of hunger” and “being tricked into staying silent,” the woman said, referring to the people of Dahieh, in which Iran-backed Hezbollah has the biggest influence. “Some of them can’t even afford a house,” she added.

- with Reuters

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