Lebanese people commemorate first anniversary of Beirut port explosion with mass protests

BEIRUT — On the first anniversary of the Beirut port explosion — which killed hundreds, wounded thousands, and left a magnitude more homeless — hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in demonstrations across the country. Demonstrators in Beirut went to the port and held pictures of the victims and slogans of the Revolution of 17 October.

The demonstrators also went to the vicinity of the Lebanese parliament and demanded that the immunity of deputies be lifted in preparation for prosecution in the case of the explosion.

As demonstrations and groups spread across several squares in the country, a dispute broke out between two groups affiliated with the Lebanese Forces political party and the Communist Party. Stones were thrown and at least one fire started. The army intervened and dispersed the demonstrators, resulting in the injury of four people.

In related news, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron stated that the response to the humanitarian aid conference was significant and effective, resulting in pledges of financial support totaling some of €370 million.

France was the primary donor, pledging €100 million in direct support, in addition to 500,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. United States President Joe Biden offered condolences to the families of those killed and many thousands more affected by the explosion and pledged $100 million. The U.S. stressed the need for urgent reforms in Lebanon and stated that continued support from Washington was contingent on reforms.

Macron said that there would be no direct check for the Lebanese political system, as the priority remains to form a government and implement reforms, and went on to criticize Lebanese politicians, blaming them for the worsening the economic situation in their country.

He stated that the crisis in Lebanon has not come out of nowhere, but is due to a dysfunctional political system.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan renewed his country’s solidarity with the Lebanese people, saying the Kingdom was one of the first countries to provide assistance to Lebanon after the port explosion.

Bin Farhan stressed that Hezbollah’s insistence on imposing its hegemony on the Lebanese state is the main cause of Lebanon’s problems.