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US News ‘Baby Shark’ and the Sounds of Protest in Lebanon

16:50  22 october  2019
16:50  22 october  2019 Source:   msn.com

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In a video shot in Lebanon over the weekend, a woman whose car is trapped among a sea of protesters , tells them that her toddler in the car is frightened. The protesters then launch into a song and dance of “ Baby Shark ” to calm the child. The video is both sweet and uplifting.

A group of protesters in Lebanon began singing Baby Shark after a mother told them her 15 month-old son was scared. Eliane Jabbour was driving through Baabda District, just south of Beirut, when a crowd of cheering protesters surrounded her car.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Demonstrators on Monday in Jal al Dib, a suburb of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The country has united in protest, if nothing else. © Mohamed Azakir/Reuters Demonstrators on Monday in Jal al Dib, a suburb of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The country has united in protest, if nothing else.

In a video shot in Lebanon over the weekend, a woman whose car is trapped among a sea of protesters, tells them that her toddler in the car is frightened. The protesters then launch into a song and dance of “Baby Shark” to calm the child. The video is both sweet and uplifting. It’s also surprising, because a Lebanese crowd acting in unison is such a rarity.

On Thursday, Lebanese from all walks of life took to the streets to protest corruption, and as of this writing the crowds keep getting bigger, louder, and more united. The crowds on Sunday were estimated to be 1.3 million people, 20 percent of the population. What seems to have set off the protests was the government’s announcement of a tax on calls made using WhatsApp and other free online applications, supposedly to raise revenue during a fiscal crisis.

Lebanon: Whatsapp tax sparks mass protests

  Lebanon: Whatsapp tax sparks mass protests Protesters have vented their frustration at several new proposed taxes and other unpopular economic policies. In a state of 'economic emergency,' Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries.The move came after hundreds of protesters took to the streets in anger at the state's handling of economic policies and the tax on calls made through the voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP), used by applications including WhatsApp, Facebook calls and FaceTime.

Amid days of passionate protests in Lebanon over new taxes, demonstrators took a short break from shouting anti-government slogans to serenade a “I have a baby , don’t be too loud,” his mother pleaded with the group of several dozen protesters , according to CNN, but realizing a little boy was in

When Eliane Jabbour found herself in the middle of a crowd of protesters in Lebanon on Saturday night, she was understandably concerned that the noise and commotion would be frightening for her toddler son, who had just woken from a nap in the passenger seat of her car.

The populace had protested a number of times before. In March 2005, in what became known as the Cedar Revolution, a huge protest erupted against the Syrian troops who, more than five years after the official end of the 15-year civil war, still occupied parts of Lebanon; that demonstration was followed by counterprotest by Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian groups. In 2015, people took to the street to protest the government’s mishandling of garbage collection — huge heaps of trash were left on the streets for months because government factions were openly jockeying for a piece of the next contract with the private company that picks up refuse.

  ‘Baby Shark’ and the Sounds of Protest in Lebanon © Reuters

Although the 2015 protests were the first in quite a while to attract people from all the religious sects of Lebanon, the outcry itself was directed at some of the leaders, not all. In this latest round, however, the demonstrations seem to cut across sectarian and class lines and they are happening all over the country, from Tripoli up north to Tyre way down south, in big cities, suburbs and villages. And all the leaders of Lebanon are being held to account.

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Lebanese protesters may be angry, frustrated and resolute, but they're also having the time of their lives. Despite the government quickly rowing back on the proposal, Lebanese have stayed in the streets and the crowds have only grown, calling for the removal of the country's entire political class.

Monday marked the fifth day of protests , as hundreds of thousands took to the streets and blocked off major roadways.

The complaint that Lebanon has been mismanaged is nothing new. Corruption and nepotism are the rule. The economy has been so atrocious for so long — the country now has one of the highest debt-to-G.D.P. ratios in the world — and unemployment rates so high that a wave of young people emigrate every year looking for better opportunities. The Lebanese still don’t have reliable basic public services, including electricity and water. What has changed is the level of mismanagement and the indignities that the citizens have had to endure recently.

  ‘Baby Shark’ and the Sounds of Protest in Lebanon © Getty

The latest protests come at the heels of a series of bad news. This summer, Lebanon’s credit rating was downgraded, which means that the country’s sizable debt will have to be repaid at a higher rate. That was followed by two major outrages, one a sex scandal and the other an ecological disaster. On Sept. 30 came reports that Saad Hariri, the prime minister and American ally, had shelled out more than $16 million in 2013, while not in office, to a South African bikini model; two days later, the Lebanese government declared another economic state of emergency.

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  Hariri announces reforms, so will Lebanon get its revolution? Demonstrators calling for fundamental changes vowed to keep up protests after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday announced his cabinet had approved economic reforms. Sandwiched between antagonistic neighbours, with a diverse populace governed under an archaic power-sharing arrangement between religious groups, Lebanon has put up with dysfunctional governance for so long that it has spawned a quintessentially Lebanese protest culture.

Why are Lebanese people protesting ? In # Lebanon the protesters continue throughout the night for the 3rd day running. The National's Willy Lowry notes the lack of political party flags, and the abundance of the red, white and green Lebanese flag.

Lebanon is in a state of 'economic emergency,' and one of the world's most indebted countries. The Lebanese government on Friday scrapped a a The move came after thousands of protesters took to the streets in anger at the state's handling of economic policies and the tax on calls made through

Last week, wildfires ravaged the country. Every forest in every corner seemed to be burning. Firefighters were unable to keep up because their equipment was out of service since the government had not allocated funds for maintenance. Luckily, rains brought many of the fires under control.

And then the WhatsApp tax.

  ‘Baby Shark’ and the Sounds of Protest in Lebanon © Getty

It’s not mere happenstance that the populace is unified this time around: As it happens, the government itself is unified for the first time in a while. This government, formed in January after more than a year without one, is supposed to represent all of Lebanon, supposed to include all the parties. That means that politicians — many of whom are the same warlords that led sectarian militias during the Lebanese civil war — haven’t been able to exploit the sectarian divisions that have kept certain families in power for generations (every politician grooms his sons to follow him). People had elected the same politicians over and over despite knowing of their corruption because, well, it’s better if one’s own sect leaders were stealing than leaving the money to another sect. The usual strategy of each political party blaming the others is unable to work now.

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  Leaderless rebellion: how social media enables global protests “A single spark can start a prairie fire,” observed Mao Zedong in 1930, as he tried to convince his followers that revolution was possible in China. Almost a century later, Mao’s observation comes to mind as little sparks set off mass demonstrations across the world. In Lebanon, the trigger for protests was a tax on WhatsApp messages. In Chile it was a rise in metro fares. In France, the gilets jaunes protests that began last year were set off by a rise in petrol taxes. Elsewhere, the roots of popular revolt are more clearly political. In Hong Kong, it was an attempt to allow extradition of criminal suspects to China.

Get your Baby Shark from any toy store in Lebanon , while supply lasts.

Protesters In Lebanon Sang ' Baby Shark ' To A Kid So He Won't Get Scared Of The Crowd. Lebanon is holding nationwide protests against the government and the financial crisis gripping the country. While many are holding traditional marches, others are also taking some time to have fun.

No political party can escape blame this time.

Related: Biggest news stories of 2019 (Photos) 

Heeding the calls for change, the government rescinded the WhatsApp tax soon after announcing it, and on Monday, it announced its agreement to a list of demands. But skeptical protesters are refusing to budge. In the meantime, the Lebanese are showing the world how to hold a great demonstration. They are partying, playing table tennis and celebrating weddings out on the street.

Previous protests have had a measured success. The 2005 uprising resulted in the Syrians’ ouster, but much remained the same. Will this latest mass revolt be able to topple the government, will the people get the regime change they’re chanting for?

Ask any Lebanese and you’ll get a nuanced answer, “Of course, things will change and nothing ever changes.” The opposing ideas of hope and despair seem to be held simultaneously by most Lebanese without much cognitive dissonance. It is how the Lebanese were able to have great nightclub parties inside bunkers during a civil war.

Only in Lebanon would a song like “Baby Shark,” which is now being played at every crowd gathering, become the anthem of a revolution. The song is both catchy and repetitive, inspiring and interminable. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo, baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo, ad infinitum.

Rabih Alameddine is the author of “The Hakawati” and other novels.

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