Skip to main content

Brides, beats and Baby Shark: Lebanon's protests are lit

From a marriage proposal to a DJ blaring music, Lebanese people have turned their revolution into a rave
A bride celebrates her wedding amongst protesters (AFP)

Lebanese protesters may be angry, frustrated and resolute, but they're also having the time of their lives.

Footage from Lebanon, where hundreds of thousands of people are demonstrating against corruption, an ineffectual government and an economic crisis, has gone viral as the Lebanese show their unique way of showing discontent.

From Tripoli to Tyre and Beirut to Baalbek, Lebanese have been protesting since Thursday, with impromptu concerts and even wedding celebrations seen among the crowds.

Across the world, lovers of Lebanon were subjected to a serious case of FOMO when a video showing a DJ entertaining a crowd of hundreds of protesters in the northern city of Tripoli went viral.

The protests initially erupted over the decision to impose taxes on calls made on mobile applications like WhatsApp, despite already expensive telecoms bills. 

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.

One young couple even took the protests as an opportunity to make their relationship official. 

And another two couples were spotted celebrating their wedding day among a sea of protesters waving Lebanese flags.  

The protests are the largest in Lebanon since 2005, when a million took to the streets, calling for an end to Syria's occupation of the country, which had lasted for nearly three decades.

Back then, political parties largely helped shape the public discourse, but now no party or politician has been spared the protesters' ire.

Various religious sects and ages have been represented at the protests, which have been characterised by foul-mouthed references to politicians and slogans calling for the government to resign. 

The country has been brought to a standstill, with many roads, schools, banks and universities closed for five consecutive days.

However, protesters have made the most of it, gathering around and singing the children's song Baby Shark to a child stuck in the middle of the crowd. 

Baby Shark has now become a staple of the protests.

Despite the serious economic issues many are facing, people poured into the streets and transformed them into festival-like scenes, with loudspeakers blaring music. 

Popular Arabic breakup songs were remixed to show that people want to break up with the government. 

Lebanese in the diaspora also joined in the protests at popular landmarks worldwide and outside Lebanese embassies, where they expressed solidarity with those at home. 

Adding to the country's list of problems - longstanding environmental crises, water and electricity shortages, crumbling infrastructure and lack of state services - is Lebanon's extremely unequal distribution of riches.

According to Beirut-based newspaper Al-Akhbar, the wealthiest 1 percent of people in the country own 58 percent of Lebanon’s wealth - while the poorest 50 percent own less than 1 percent.

Humour has been a key part of the protests.

As has music and dancing. Lebanese have again and again begun the dabke, a raucous traditional dance, in the middle of protests.

Translation: “A revolution without dabke?”