In contrast to the street violence earlier this week and harsh crackdown on young protestors, it was all kisses and praises for police– at least for a few brief moments during last night’s rally at Riad Solh square.

“I hope everyone will film this,” one activist shouts out. “Because people think we are against each other. They don’t see we are all in this together!” Another praises God and pulls the supervising officer’s head in for a kiss.

Riot police had previously opened fire on the crowd with rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas and live rounds in air. At least one young activist has been critically wounded and dozens others arrested amid street violence, shattered storefronts and vandalism of state property.

But the scene last night was far tamer with the water cannons silent and officers observing quietly on the sidelines as a group of rowdy boys encircled and began cheering them. Earlier in the day some of the same boys proudly admitted to me that they had been at the heart of the civil disobedience in previous days, having been chased and shot at by security forces. With little facial hair, most were barely adolescent and said they lived in the nearby slums of Khandak Ghamiq and the southern suburbs, having faced severe shortages of water and electricity, income and medical care ( i.e not just the problems of garbage collection that have brought out middle class activists.)

Toward the end of the video, one boy shouts out: “See we’ve made a truce!”


More videos to come… (as the infamously slow Lebanese internet allows.)

UPDATE: Here’s a second video, moments later, as protestors chant “God bless you, oh policeman”

At the very end one protestor shouts out: “Don’t shoot us, oh policeman”



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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.


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