Protests in Lebanon ignited when, on 17th October, 2019, the government announced a tax of $6 a month on Internet voice-call services such as WhatsApp. Taxes were also going to be put on petrol and tobacco. Demonstrators are angry at their leaders' failure to deal with a stagnant economy, rising prices, high unemployment, dire public services and corruption. Their demands include an end to government corruption and the overhaul of the political system and the formation of an independent, non-sectarian cabinet.As a result of the protests there were very few tourists. Many shops and over 300 restaurants had been forced into closure. The streets in central Beirut were empty at night. There were people permanently camped out in tents in Martyrs’ Square and a lot of graffiti on the buildings in the streets around the Square.On Saturday, our last evening in Beirut, riots broke out and we were not allowed out of the hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel had no restaurant so we survived on what little snacks we had. We watched out of our bedroom window as rioters gathered in Martyrs’ Square. Every so often the rioters would scatter and many met in groups below our bedroom window. The violence began as demonstrators, who had been attacked during a sit-in by masked counter-protesters, tried to move into a square near parliament. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, while protesters threw stones. Reuters news agency reported that riot police and security forces had been deployed in large numbers in Beirut, chasing demonstrators, beating and detaining some of them. Dozens of people, were injured. At least 20 officers were also wounded. That night triggered the resignation of the Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, but talks to form a new government became deadlocked.On 4th August 2020, a massive explosion of ammonium nitrate that had been stored in a warehouse at the port. destroyed 40% of the city of Beirut. Thousands of angry protesters gathered and some stormed government buildings.On 10th August, 2020 the entire cabinet resigned. The Prime Minister designate failed to form a new government and he resigned on 26th September. The country remains in turmoil with the added crisis of Covid 19.
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