Lebanon protests need a vision to make a change
The aim of change is not to simply replace who is in power
In order to preserve Lebanon’s civil society, difficult questions need to be asked in order to protect it from deviating from the right path.
These difficult questions are necessary to avoid falling into the trap of chaos, and to put pressure on the authorities, among whom corruption and neglect of people’s affairs persists.
The late former Member of Parliament and journalist Gebran Tueni, who was assassinated in 2005, was among the first of the rebels. He launched Nahar al-Shabab, a weekly supplement of An-Nahar newspaper, as a space for young Lebanese people to express themselves. He launched it for the sake of overcoming fear, beginning a journey of change which he knew would be long and tough. Yet he continued to believe in the Lebanese people’s capabilities and desire to achieve change.
Calling for change must be associated with a vision, because the aim of change is not to simply replace who is in power.Nayla Tueni
Many challenges lay ahead of him. But Gebran Tueni witnessed the end of all occupations of Lebanon, before he himself was targeted.
Part of Tueni’s legacy we preserve today is his call on civil society to work for change. It’s about changing the political class, renewing parties and developing a formula for a state of institutions that maintains the dignity of the Lebanese people. It is a people who has suffered and sacrificed so much, with many killed, displaced, tortured, imprisoned or humiliated.
Need for a vision
But calling for change must be associated with a vision, because the aim of change is not to simply replace who is in power but to actually achieve the strategy of building an independent, free and sovereign state that meets the aspirations of its citizens and guarantees residents’ rights. This is the case in all civilized countries.
The protest in Beirut on August 29 inspired hope in the many Lebanese people who took to the streets. It was the hope that they can indeed push for change and fight corruption.
There are however several campaigns involved that do not necessarily coordinate with each another. There were protesters intent on causing trouble, and those affiliated with political parties aiming to exploit the situation. This made many people hesitate in participating in the demonstrations; and allowed some politicians to succeed in raising fears about them.
What we witnessed on Saturday in Zaitunay Bay in Beirut – a protest organized by ‘Change is Coming’ to reclaim public space – garnered support but also upset many.
To push towards change and to restore people’s support, the different campaigns – the ‘You Stink’ campaign, etcetera – must work together. They must not work in a way that creates further divisions. It’s important to specify goals and work accordingly to achieve them. It’s also essential to respect private and public property – as attacking them makes the campaign lose its credibility.
This article was first published in an-Nahar on Sept. 14, 2015.
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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