In this series of Global, we’re meeting some of these “Democracy First Responders.” We’ll travel around the world – virtually, of course – and talk to politicians, activists, medical workers, journalists, tech pioneers, government officials, and everyday citizens like you and me. These are very different people, but everyone we spoke with has one goal in common: To respond to this crisis successfully and protect their country’s democratic institutions – or even build new ones.
Before the coronavirus, Lebanon was home to one of the world’s most vibrant people-powered protest movements, demanding accountable, transparent government and rejecting entrenched elites. But restrictions on gatherings are straining this movement, and ruling elites – and foreign powers – are using the crisis to challenge their gains and reestablish their own support.
Can Lebanon’s protest movement – and movements like it – adapt or even thrive in this new reality? To find out, Global spoke with Makram Rabah, an activist, journalist and professor of history at the American University of Beirut. Makram has been active in writing about Lebanon’s protest movement and exposing efforts to silence it. Makram has also been calling for reforms that respond to people’s demands for change.