The violence on the streets of Egypt has reminded many Lebanese of their own uprising against a potentate.
‘The revolution taking place in Egypt reminds us of when we gathered at Martyr Square in 2005 to call for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon,’ Mona Saad, a school teacher, told the German Press Agency.
Like Egypt’s protesters, the Lebanese protagonists of the 2005 Cedar Revolution – which was triggered by the February 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – sought an end to the 30-year-old status quo.
The primary goals of the Beirut demonstrations were the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 30 years of military and political presence and the the replacement of a government heavily influenced by Syrian interests with a more independent leadership.
But others in Beirut do not agree with Mona’s comparison.
‘The protesters in Egypt do not have a united leadership and this might affect the outcome of their revolution,’ Kamal Chadeh, a shop owner said.
‘If they remove Hosny Mubarak, who do they have to replace him?’ Kamal asked.
‘When the Lebanese decided to take to the streets of Beirut in 2005 they had a cause and an alternative. The Egyptians do not have it now,’ he added.
Many Lebanese believe that it is time for Mubarak to leave, but they also warn that his exit will not be easy to achieve.
‘All dictatorships have to go because we in the Arab world need new leaders who work for the people and not for their pockets,’ said Maher Shabaro, a library owner.
But ‘from what we have heard, Mubarak will not leave power so easily,’ he added.
For those Egyptians who work and live in Lebanon, the clashes have made them both sad and angry.
‘The scenes were horrific. I hope Mubarak, a good president who feels his people do not want him anymore, will leave and spare bloodshed,’ said Mohamed, who asked to be identified only by his first name.
‘Mubarak and his aides never listened to the people’s demands. People are now on the streets, getting killed and wounded and they’re still not willing to listen,’ he said. M&C