Thousands of Lebanese protesters have successfully formed a human chain running from the south to the north of the country to symbolise newfound national unity.
Demonstrators joined hands from Tripoli to Tyre, a 105-mile (170km) chain running through the capital, Beirut, where protests have been focused, as part of an unprecedented mobilisation across sectarian lines.
“The idea behind this human chain is to show an image of a Lebanon which, from north to south, rejects any sectarian affiliation,” said Julie Tegho Bou Nassif, one of the organisers. “There is no political demand today, we only want to send a message by simply holding hands under the Lebanese flag,” the 31-year-old history professor said.
On the Beirut seafront, men, women and children held hands, some carrying Lebanese flags and many singing the national anthem.
Another organiser in the capital, who asked to be called a daughter of Beirut, said: “The idea is that from the north to the south, we are united and making a stand together.
“We are one people and we love each other,” she added, in between coordinating events by phone.
The protests have been remarkable for their territorial reach and the absence of political or sectarian banners in a country often defined by its divisions.
The leaderless protest movement, driven mostly by those born after the 1975-1990 civil war, has been described by some as the birth of a Lebanese civic identity.
Protesters have been demanding the removal of the entire ruling class, which has remained largely unchanged in three decades.
The prime minister Saad Hariri, announced a package of economic changes that aims to revive an economy that has been on the brink of collapse for months.
His coalition partners have supported the move and warned a political vacuum in times of economic peril risks chaos. (Source: The Guardian)