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Two years after Lebanon’s so-called October 17 movement began with major nationwide protests, disillusionment and fear prevail in the country. Several prime ministers have come and gone since 2019, but the protesters’ demands have not been met. FRANCE 24’s Claire Paccalin speaks with Lynn Harfoush, an executive committee member of the National Bloc political party, who remains undeterred.
Turnout was small at the October 17 demonstration this year, but Harfoush, an executive committee member of Lebanon‘s secular National Bloc party said there was still reason for hope.
“It is a bit disappointing, but at the same time, it’s something we understand,” Harfoush said of the low turnout. “The crisis has grown much bigger. Some people are even unable to commute to come here. But what we are sure of, and the reason that we still believe in the October 17 revolution, is that it did light this flame of change in a lot of people’s hearts.”
Harfoush said the economic situation was worse than ever. “We’ve moved from worrying about how we were going to spend our days to worrying about whether we would find any gas, electricity, water … we’ve moved to worrying about our minimum needs. Gas has become very expensive, while the minimum wage is still very low,” she said, adding that many Lebanese have lost their jobs and were worried about the inflation crisis.
Harfoush said the protest movement was also demanding progress in the investigation into the August 4, 2020 explosion at Beirut Port. “It is a very big date for us, because it proved to the people that the political class is not only unable to provide for their needs but it is also unable to protect them.” Bringing those responsible for the blast, which claimed the lives of more than 217 people and destroyed the port and a large part of the city “has become a top demand of all the October 17 revolution movements”, she said.
Harfoush said it might take a long time, but her party and other participants in the protest movement would continue working. “There’s a lot for us to do. There’s this whole political class that we need to overcome,” she said.
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