Shops, government offices, businesses, and banks shuttered their doors in Lebanon on Thursday. It was part of a general strike to protest deteriorating economic conditions. Workers hope to press the government to deal with the worsening political and economic crises.
Lebanon is a poor country. Much of its poverty is due to governmental corruption and mismanagement. (See Anger and Forgiveness in Beirut.)
The strike was accompanied by several roadblocks set up around Beirut and other cities. Lebanon has been without a fully functioning government since August. Ironically, the same political parties that are blamed for months-long deadlock over forming a government supported the strike. This drew criticism from many activists and commentators. They question why those driving the nation’s economic meltdown tried to appear to be in favor of the people’s protests—at least in words if not in actions. (See 1 John 3:18.)
The current financial crisis has been festering since 2019. Fuel is in short supply. Power outages have increased. And medicine, which is mostly imported, is hard to find. Hospitals have closed labs to outpatients and prices are soaring. All this happens while the national currency is losing value rapidly.
The World Bank describes Lebanon’s situation as among the worst in the world in 150 years.
Even the Lebanese army’s actions are threatened by the mess. Soldiers aren’t receiving salaries and military operations are grinding to a halt. France held a fundraiser last week aimed at mobilizing food, medicines, and medical equipment for the Lebanese army. More than 20 other countries are expected to contribute to that effort.
Critics ridiculed the ruling elite’s attempt to rally behind the strike. A hashtag on Twitter called “the regime revolts” was trending on Thursday. Posters shared memes using pictures from anti-government protests in 2019. But those images replaced faces of protesters arrested with the visages of prominent politicians.
Amid the crisis, politicians still appeared in no rush to form a government that would have to seek reform and impose austerity decisions.
God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. — Psalm 9:18 NIV
(A protester burns tires and garbage containers as he blocks a highway to protest against Lebanon’s inflation and currency crash, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday, June 17, 2021. AP/Hussein Malla)