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'Until our last breath': on the streets with Lebanon's protesters

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:23s - Published < > Embed
'Until our last breath': on the streets with Lebanon's protesters

'Until our last breath': on the streets with Lebanon's protesters

Dany Mortada has spent the last four days on the streets of Beirut, part of anti-government protests amid an economic crisis.

David Doyle reports.

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'Until our last breath': on the streets with Lebanon's protesters

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE ACTIVIST, DANY MORTADA, SAYING: "We are continuing with the movement, even if we have to escalate.

We will remain part of the movement, until our last breath." Dany Mortada has spent the last four days on Beirut's streets, one of thousands calling for the downfall of a political elite that protesters blame for plunging Lebanon's economy into crisis.

Like more than a third of under-35-year-olds, Mortada is unemployed.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE ACTIVIST, DANY MORTADA, SAYING: "This, at the end, has become like our job, because there are no jobs in the country, our job has become to come here and demand our rights." On Friday (October 18), Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has given his feuding coalition partners 72 hours to agree to reforms that could ward off an economic crisis - hinting that he might otherwise resign.

Some politicians and union leaders have called for the whole government to step down - adding to a rising chorus of voices in an unusually unified protest, pulling together all segments of Lebanese society.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE ACTIVIST, DANY MORTADA, SAYING: "When I see this scene and all people from all religions coming down to the streets, this is the energy.

When I see the Sunni, Shi'ites, Christian and Druze from all regions, they don't care where from, how and why, all united with one hand, this is only energy." The protests were sparked by anger over the cost of living and new tax plans, including a fee on WhatsApp calls, which was quickly retracted after the protests broke out.

In an attempt to appease protesters, Lebanon's finance minister said he had agreed a final budget with Hariri that did not include additional taxes or fees.

But the protests are also built on grievances over perceived government corruption, mismanagement of funds, and a failure to address high unemployment.

Tackling those issues could help unlock billions of dollars that were conditionally pledged by international donors.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEBANESE ACTIVIST, DANY MORTADA, SAYING: "We are here since the protest started, and we are not leaving until our demands are met.

As they say, we are the children of the streets in 2015, 2011, 2009, we went to the streets during all those years and we are continuing.

We are staying in the streets."




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