Since the beginning of this year, the Lebanese government has introduced fiscal austerity measures in response to inflation, stagnant economic growth and fiscal deficits, leading to public grievances.
According to the government's statement, Lebanese network operators have introduced new technologies to detect whether users are using Internet social communication software to make Internet calls. If implemented, the Lebanese government will increase its income by 200 million U.S. dollars per year.
On the evening of October 17, a large-scale protest broke out in the Lebanese capital of Beirut and several districts. Thousands of protesters protested against the new tax policy – the government would charge 20 cents a day for users of online social communication software.
The protest march in Beirut began on the evening of the 17th and continued until the early hours of the 18th. Near the government headquarters in the city center, protesters tried to hit the government building and arson destroyed a mosque and construction site in the city and violent clashes with Lebanese security forces.
"We elected them and we will drive them off the stage," a protester told local television. "Let us unite with a bad standard of living and we are destroyed," another protester said. In the end, 40 members of the Lebanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters after being injured in the conflict.
According to the Lebanese National News Agency, in addition to Beirut, protests broke out in the southern city of Sidon, the northern cities of Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley. Demonstrators from all over the world shouted overthrowing the regime and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
After the riots, Lebanese telecom minister Mohamed Qorkar said the government changed its decision to tax social networking applications, and they are considering further austerity measures in hopes of saving the economic woes.