LEBANON, Beirut — Protesters take to the streets of Beirut on Saturday, October 17, to mark the one-year anniversary of Lebanon’s ‘October Revolution’. On 17 October 2019, the Lebanese cabinet announced a raft of taxes, targeting among others gasoline, tobacco and VoIP calls on applications such as WhatsApp, designed to tackle the country’s high public debt.
In response, the country was swept by cross-sectarian protests over economic stagnation and widespread corruption, which led to the resignation of then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The COVID-19 pandemic added more pressure on the struggling economy and plummeting currency, prompting a new wave of rallies despite social distancing restrictions. On August 4, the Beirut port was rocked by two explosions that killed at least 190 people, injured 6,500, and displaced over 300,000. The blasts triggered violent protests which forced the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab to resign.