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Financial Crisis

Protests ignite in squares and streets throughout Lebanon in the wake of the lira's record plunge

Protests have broken out across the country after the value of Lebanese lira dropped to record lows Tuesday.

Protests ignite in squares and streets throughout Lebanon in the wake of the lira's record plunge

Protesters block the street with dumpsters and burning tires on Beshara al-Khoury street (Credit: João Sousa/L'Orient Today)

BEIRUT — Protests have broken out across the country after the value of Lebanese lira dropped to record lows Tuesday.

At noon, exchange shops were selling the US dollar for LL10,000 for the first time in Lebanon’s history, surpassing the previous record of LL9,800 from July 2, 2020.

Protesters blocked roads up and down the country, from Tripoli and the Bekaa to Saida and Nabatieh, with burning tires and trash cans. In the capital, residents took to the streets in Verdun, Salim Salam, Bechara al-Khoury, as well as the Airport Road in Burj al-Barajneh and the Dora roundabout leading out of the city, among others.

A couple hundred protesters also gathered in downtown Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square — an iconic site from the mass protests against the ruling elite in October 2019 — and blocked surrounding roads, including, briefly, the Ring Bridge.

“I feel like I am living in a country without value,” 35-year-old Mahmoud Ahmad told L’Orient Today from Martyrs’ Square. “Every day, there is a new piece of bad news, but there is never a solution and honestly, I don’t have any hope left.”

Protesters at the site banged against metal barriers surrounding a construction site with rocks to generate a wave of sound, while tires burned nearby.

A few hundred meters away in Riad al-Solh Square, familiar chants of “thief, thief, Riad Salameh is a thief,” rang out, in reference to the central bank governor. 

A reporter and cameraman from Al-Jadeed were attacked by protesters as they arrived at the Ring Bridge to cover the protest and had their camera broken, the channel reported.

At the Chevrolet junction in Furn al-Shubbak, protesters tipped over metal trash cans and set them on fire, blocking traffic in both directions.

“I haven’t worked in over four months,” said 27-year-old Tony Assaf. “In fact, no one in my family has a job, but all our expenses are rising. We can’t even buy gasoline."

At the Dora roundabout, protesters faced off with Lebanese army soldiers who deployed, without success, to reopen the highway there. The demonstrators refused to move from the area, which links Beirut with the highway leading northward in the country.

Outside the capital, demonstrators also forced exchange shops in Chtoura and Saida to close their doors during the afternoon, the state-run National News Agency reported.

The currency’s depreciation comes amid a wider deterioration of living conditions, including inflation of essential goods and increased power cuts. The minimum wage of LL675,000 is now worth around $68.

On Twitter, the top trending hashtags were “the dollar” and “Lebanon is not doing fine,” an apparent tongue-in-cheek reference to comments by the central bank chief, who had repeatedly said “the lira is doing fine” when the currency first started to lose value in mid-2019. 


BEIRUT — Protests have broken out across the country after the value of Lebanese lira dropped to record lows Tuesday.At noon, exchange shops were selling the US dollar for LL10,000 for the first time in Lebanon’s history, surpassing the previous record of LL9,800 from July 2, 2020.Protesters blocked roads up and down the country, from Tripoli and the Bekaa to Saida and Nabatieh, with burning...