From hookah to yoga: Five reasons why Lebanon's protests are actually a 'millennial revolution'

From hookah to yoga: Five reasons why Lebanon's protests are actually a 'millennial revolution'
Millennials are in the front line of protests demanding the overhaul of the political establishment and economic reform in this small Mediterranean country
4 min read
08 Nov, 2019
Lebanese millennials are taking down the establishment [Getty]

Anti-government protests continue across Lebanon bringing the country to a standstill. Demonstrators chanting "Kilon yani kilon" – Arabic for "all of them means all of them" are demanding political and economic reforms as well as the resignation of all corrupt politicians. 

Prime minister Saad al-Hariri's resignation left demonstrators unsatisfied, as protests are driven by genuine discontent against the entire political establishment, rather than individual political interests.

Lebanon's demonstrations have revealed a diversity which has never been seen before, uniting citizens from all sects, regions and religious beliefs but also age groups, including children.

But millennials (especially people born after 1990, the end of the civil war) are at the forefront of bridging the past, present and future of this small country. They're not only outraged by not having future prospects in a country plagued by joblessness and corruption, but they're also breaking social taboos and raising awareness on civil issues which were once taboo.

Here are five unique expressions millennials have brought to protests in Lebanon.

1. Techno and alternative music

Beirut is known across the world for its vibrant techno scene. It should come to no surprise then, that youths in Lebanon have brought the rave to demonstrations.

Whilst traditional Arabic songs can be heard during the day, techno DJs are making their appearance behind the decks at night, turning city squares into an open air version of Lebanon's famed club B018.

Rap, alternative and progressive music by the likes of (millennial) Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, known for their taboo breaking lyrics, are being played on the streets of Lebanon, highlighting the generational shift in tastes.

Hamed Sinno, the openly gay frontman of the band, perhaps best encapsulates the direction in which Lebanese youths are trying to take the country, putting many intersectional issues on the agenda, and highlighting the yearning shared amongst a new generation of Lebanese for radical change. 

2. Young women and queer Lebanese on the frontlines

Young women and LGBTQ Lebanese are on the frontlines, facing police and loyalist militias, and protecting other demonstrators. Whilst the nationwide protests call for radical reforms in the political system, many among them are also calling for social change from gender equality to gay rights.

Indeed, the youths of Lebanon are utilising this opportunity to highlight other civil and social issues which have gone unnoticed for decades.

Hundreds of young women and their male allies have thus marched the streets demanding an end to the country's discriminatory personal statues law, and the implementation of legislation protecting the LGBTQ community. If anything, this reflects the young, progressive voice in Lebanon's protests.

Read more: This badass woman has become the face of Lebanon's uprising

3. Who needs Tinder when you have 'Revolution Crushes'

The use of social media platforms by millennials raising awareness of what is happening in Lebanon is an obvious feature of the protests. But eighteen-year-old Alaa Khattabs "@Thawra Crushes'" Instagram account has taken things in a direction never seen before.

"Revolution pick up line: Give me your number so I can call you and wake you up to go to the protests"

Millennials are seeking love as well as revolution. The Instagram account already has 1000 post and over 7000 followers.

The way this 'revolutionary dating platform' works is that people send photos of their crushes they've seen at demonstrations, and Khattab plays cupid by uploading the image and asking if anyone knows who they are to tag them.

This way they are instantly connected. What happens from there is up to them!

4. Protesting with hookas and yoga

Millennial revolutionaries are getting creative by bringing yoga to the streets, showing off their best warrior poses, as part of creative protest tactics in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s yogis embodying the peaceful sentiment of mass demonstrations  [Getty]

A group of young people even took to merging their revolution with deep meditative practice by carrying out yoga classes while blocking roads.

That's not to mention street football, bonfires, and...street shisha lounges!

Read more- Football, yoga, campfires: Lebanon's protesters find creative means to continue roadblocks for 12th day

5. Swear words

Lebanese university and school students have also joined the revolution, going on strike and defying administrators and even the army and police.

Amongst the many slogans they are chanting on the streets of Lebanon, many include cuss words that would make many parents blush. 

The videos circulating even show young women standing side by side with men across Lebanon, chanting obscene words against politicians.

In an otherwise conservative region, that's very revolutionary. But for many young people in Lebanon, the ruling class's corruption that has stolen their future is the ultimate sin, and curse words in the course of fighting it is a virtue.