A Sea of Orange in Martyrs Square

Responding to a call by General Michel Aoun, founder of the Free Patriotic Movement, supporters flooded on Friday to Beirut’s Martyrs Square in their tens of Thousands.

They came from all over Lebanon, from the very North to the very South and from far away regions of the Bekaa Valley. They came despite the fact it was a working day, in order to show their support for a call to rally by General Aoun as a means of demanding a new election law based on proportional representation, new elections for a Parliament that has voted twice to re-extend its only term and either for that new parliament or the people directly, to elect the new President of Lebanon.

They came despite an unprecedented media campaign aimed at sidelining the reformist role of the FPM in Lebanese politics. They came as free people, able to see through the media fog. They came in buses paid for by volunteers, or in their own cars.

These were free people who wanted to reaffirm their free will. No one gave them petrol vouchers, nor sandwiches nor a single dollar, practices that other Lebanese political groups are famous for.

The media campaign against the FPM had been in full swing for many years, recently peaking in intensity as it spread a Goebel’s inspired message that the FPM had lost its support base, was only in it for personal gain, with special focus on Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, a long term FPM activist who met and married General Aoun’s daughter Mirielle along the way.

The presence of tens of thousands of FPM supporters surprised some allies even before it surprised foes, for it seems that some had been taken by the media.

Celebrities addressed the crowd with passion whilst whipping the atmosphere into frenzy with patriotic songs. Some spoke of how they had been taken with the fog of the message that “they are all the same, i.e. that all politicians are corrupt”, with a message to the people to see through that slogan.

This was the slogan that had been thrown around in recent protests against the garbage crisis. This was the message that some though would break the FPM, but the rally proved that the people have eyes and they have ears, and are able to determine which political groups are working in their interest.

Whist the rest of the country was glued to their TV sets watching the live coverage; many others chose to be there in person. Old and young and from all sects and walks of life. Many brought their children and all had lots to say, proving that the people of Lebanon are a lot wiser than the propagandists assume.

The demands of the FPM were well voiced in a speech by Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil, the new leader of the movement. Then came the speech by General Aoun which although short due to his having the flu, reconfirmed the confidence and trust between the people and a person that they believe gives them hope for a better life in a better Lebanon.

R.B 06/09/15

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