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AFP
October 23, 2019

Hizbullah under pressure

World

AFP
October 23, 2019

BEIRUT: When mass anti-government protests engulfed Lebanon, a taboo was broken as strongholds of the Hizbullah movement saw rare demonstrations criticising the party and revered leader Hassan Nasrallah.

On live TV and in protest sites, citizens accused the party of providing political cover for a corrupt government that they say has robbed people of their livelihoods. This shattered the myth of absolute acquiesence among Hizbullah’s popular base, baffling even those who hail from the movement’s strongholds.

"No one ever expected that in any of these areas in south Lebanon we would hear a single word against Nasrallah," or Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri, said Sara, a 32-year-old activist who participated in protests in the southern city of Nabatiyeh.

"It’s unbelievable," the activist added, asking to use a pseudonym due to security concerns. The popular Iran-backed movement is a major political player that took 13 seats in the country’s May 2018 parliamentary elections and secured three cabinet posts.

It is the only political party not to have disarmed after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, and helped its Christian ally Michel Aoun assume the presidency in 2016. Popular dissatisfaction with the government peaked last week following protests over taxes, corruption and dire economic conditions. South Lebanon -- a bastion of the powerful movement since the group liberated the region from Israeli occupation in 2000 -- was not spared.

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