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WHATSAPP TAX SPARKS MASSIVE PROTESTS IN LEBANON

Written by  Oct 18, 2019

Protesters showed their frustration at several new proposed taxes and other unpopular economic policies. In a state of 'economic emergency,' Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries. 

The Lebanese government on Friday scrapped a a 20-cent (€0.18) daily charge on voice calls made through WhatsApp just hours after announcing it.

The move came after hundreds of protesters took to the streets in anger at the state's handling of economic policies and the tax on calls made through the voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP), used by applications including WhatsApp, Facebook calls and FaceTime. 

Police and security forces fired tear gas at protesters as they tried to push through security barriers around the government headquarters. It was one of the biggest demonstrations the country has seen in years.

Despite the backdown, protesters continue to demand economic reform. "We are not here over WhatsApp, we are here over everything: over fuel, food, bread, over everything," said Abdullah, a protester in the capital Beirut.

"We are asking for jobs, for our rights, electricity, water, we are demanding education," said another protester.

Demonstrators gathered in Beirut's Riad al-Solh square, some waving Lebanese flags and chanting, "the people want to topple the regime" and "we need a revolution."

DW's Diana Hodali in Beirut said the city was "literally burning." Almost all major roads were "blocked by burning tires and garbage," she wrote on Twitter.

"The protests were sparked by the plan to raise taxes on VoIP," Hodali said. "But they are a culmination of recent shortages like bread and fuel. There is rampant corruption and a complete mismanagement of public funds."

Last modified on Friday, 18 October 2019 16:07
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