BEIRUT: Every year on November 22, a military parade takes place in central Beirut to celebrate Lebanon's Independence Day; but this year, amid Lebanon's uprising, the people had their own celebratory plans.
Instead of the usual big parade that takes place every year, a smaller one was held in Yarze at the Defence Ministry, attended by President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and officials.
As for the protesters, they organized a gathering in Riad Al Solh and activists called for civil marches to take place at a nationwide level to mark the country's 76th Independence Day as the revolution enters its 37th day.
While lighting a lantern, Mohammad Chamseddine said Lebanon has yet to become fully independent. “The real independence will be when we become independent from all these politicians ruling us, and hopefully this day will come,” he said.
The civil parade consisted of groups from eclectic backgrounds, including teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, media personnel, mothers, students, and other professions.
"As a man in his 70s now, I fully appreciate that people of all ages, sects, professions, and interests are united for one cause. There's a long way to go but we will get there," Osman El Khalil, an attendee shared with Annahar.
On a nationwide level, marches from several locations in the country kicked off early in the morning.
The Lebanese diaspora was highly motivated by the protests and organized a march that will travel in a convoy from the airport to Martyr's Square at 5:00 p.m.
Protestors called on all citizens to wave high "the light of the independence" after nightfall with a candle, lighter, or the flashlight on their mobile phones to bring people together from across sectarian lines and give a light of hope that change might finally sweep away the broken system.
"I've been on the streets since day one and I've never felt frustrated despite all the ambient vibes willing to discourage protesters, and this is what independence should be all about. This is the first time we actually celebrate independence," Jocelyne Sabbagh told Annahar.
Nationwide protests began on Oct. 17 against new taxes on WhatsApp calls amid a plunging economy. The protesters now are calling for the downfall of the political class that has been ruling since the Civil War.
While addressing the nation last night, President Aoun had said that an agreement about forming a government is still far off due to conflicts within Lebanon's political sphere.
Today, Lebanon celebrates its 76th year of independence from the French rule.
Christy-Belle Geha and Fatima Dia contributed to this report
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