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Lebanon’s game of streets and display of power

Nayla Tueni

Published: Updated:

Many may disagree over Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s decision to boycott the national dialogue session, called for by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, because he thinks it is of no use and does not serve the process of electing a new president.

The step itself is brave if it puts an end to divisions and tries to contain the street. The problem now is that each group - whether political, sectarian or civil society - has its own street. This game of streets has now surfaced again, as if politicians are once again betting on who has more supporters, and who can gather more people for a protest or a festival.

Politicians are once again betting on who has more supporters, and who can gather more people for a protest or a festival.

Nayla Tueni

Following the March 8 protest in 2005 to end the Syrian occupation, and after the historical protest that followed it on March 14, the street no longer had a meaning. The other massive gathering that came after these two was to receive the pope during his visit to Lebanon. Perhaps this latter occasion can teach politicians something.

Before and after the pope’s visit, there were sectarian partisan gatherings - mostly paid for or encouraged via intimidation - that do not affect political formulae that countries and dialogue “leaders” admit are foreign-controlled.

Protests

No one denies that political parties have the right to take to the streets, as long as their protest respects public and private property, and does not harm people or security forces, especially when the country stands on the edge of an abyss. No one denies that protests, especially the recent civil society activity, have an impact. These protests exhausted politicians, expedited dialogue and forced the government to work more actively.

However, those organizing this game of streets may lose control of it if intelligence members of a certain party get involved to sabotage it or deviate it from its path. Parties and militias that do not benefit from such street activity may also try to sabotage these protests, and they may even join forces to harm this activity or make it turn violent. It is thus necessary to be aware of the importance of not letting this activity turn into a display of power, or deviate from its aim of fighting corruption and demanding reforms.

This article was first published in an-Nahar on Sept. 11, 2015.

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Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni

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