The Lebanese Gainesville community shared solidarity with oversea protesters Tuesday night.
More than 40 people gathered in Bo Diddley Plaza in honor of recent protests in Lebanon calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, according to National Public Radio. Demonstrators waved red, white and green Lebanese flags while chanting “Revolution” and “F*** the president” in Arabic.
Norane Shehab, a 27-year-old Gainesville resident and event organizer, said the protests in Lebanon started after the Lebanese government decided to add taxes to the WhatsApp phone app, which offers international communication services such as texting, voice calling and video calling.
“That was the tipping point for all of the protesters,” Shehab said. “We’re done with the sectarianism in our government.”
The country’s political system, which designates power among the Christian, Sunni and Shia religious communities, is being criticized for its corruption, according to NPR.
Nader El Ahmadie, a 30-year-old Gainesville resident who also organized the event, said he moved from Lebanon to the United States three years ago to find a job after finishing school. He said the event was not a protest but an act of support for family and friends back home.
“We’re shouting for every Lebanese to have the right to live with dignity in their own country and not be judged according to their religion or political views,” El Ahmadie said.
Yasmine Hamzah, a 21-year-old UF biology senior, is a member of the Lebanese American Society and attended the event to defend her family’s home country, she said.
She reiterated the call for Lebanese officials to step down.
“When we say all of them, we mean all of them,” Hamzah said. “And that’s referring to the politicians.”
Michel Chalfoun, a 20-year-old computer science junior, and Malek Shehab, a 19-year-old industrial and systems engineering sophomore, hold the Lebanese flag and chant “Revolution!” in Arabic Tuesday night to stand in solidarity with the protestors in Lebanon. More than 40 people attended the protest.