Although no figure has yet emerged to represent their demands, the protesters have demonstrated that crowds can wield power and influence, perhaps as much as individual leaders. Following the first days of the uprising, protesters started forming groups, either physically or on WhatsApp. This helped them coordinate road closures or organize gatherings and demonstrations.
Results for Category: Lebanon
Many never believed it would happen, as the Lebanese fear of another civil war if they let go of their political leaders – who were often warlords during the war and now act as community protectors – has largely kept people from taking to the streets. But on 17 October, large-scale protests erupted after a series of measures and incidents that suggested their government cares little for their wellbeing.
Lebanon’s endemic corruption is one of the root causes of the crisis. The inability of successive governments to agree on a proper sustainable waste management framework has seemingly been the result of leaders negotiating behind the scenes over which company should be granted profitable waste collection contracts. The bids were apparently launched on a geographic or confessional basis and the companies involved were associated with specific political figures and parties.
Some argue that the level of academic experience, techniques and skills that the Syrian artists brought with them was much higher than what had previously existed in Lebanon. For example, the Syrians introduced the concept of the ‘dramaturge’ – a literary editor who liaises with playwrights and researches, edits and interprets scripts.
Jaber concluded, “I think the most important achievement of the Metro was that it gave hope that something good can be done and that real art can be presented, which has brought life back to art in Lebanon and allowed theatres to compete with cinemas. We dreamed of creating an oasis in a city full of problems, exploiting the margins of freedom that the city has. This is in addition to restoring to the art makers their confidence in the audience and allowing them to take chances and produce art based on revenues. This audience will find its way to true art in a scene that is full of many other colours.”
Organizers of the Byblos International Festival yielded to pressure from church officials, politicians and online groups who accused the locally grown and internationally acclaimed band Mashrou’ Leila of dishonouring Christian symbols and promoting homosexuality. Following several threats of violence, the organizers announced on 30 July that the show scheduled for 9 August would be cancelled to ‘prevent bloodshed and maintain security and stability’.
The negotiations come at a highly sensitive time in the region, with Iran and the US facing off in the Gulf and escalating tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Iran-backed armed group and political party Hezbollah. On 19 June, Israel organized its largest military drill in years, with thousands of army, navy and air force troops simulating a potential conflict with Hezbollah.
Yet, politics is only one of the various aspects framing Lebanon’s museum culture. A quick overview of the existing landscape highlights the importance of private initiatives and a significant reliance of cultural heritage preservation on the goodwill of a few wealthy families and individuals. This contrasts with the alleged absence of the state in the field of culture, although the national museum of Beirut has attained international recognition, with, for instance, its participation in April 2018 in the fourth edition of the Global Museum Leaders Colloquium, hosted by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.