Student Protests in Lebanon Are Turning into Violence

Lebanese students clashed with the armed police in Beirut on Dec 20, 2020. (AFP)



Lebanon is facing its worst crisis in decades. Now the tuition fees are also expected to rise. Protesters pelt bottles at police officers.



In economically stricken Lebanon, protests against higher tuition fees have led to violent clashes between demonstrators and the police. In front of the AUB, American University of Beirut, police used tear gas against demonstrators trying to get to the main entrance of the university on Saturday evening. Students then threw bottles and other projectiles at the security forces and set fire to garbage cans.

The AUB and the Lebanese American University - the two large private universities in Lebanon - had previously announced that they would use a new currency formula to calculate their tuition fees, which would make studying significantly more expensive.

Lebanon has officially pegged its currency to the US dollar, and the official exchange rate is currently around 1,500 Lebanese pounds per dollar. The two universities, on the other hand, want to use an exchange rate of 3,900 Lebanese pounds per US dollar when calculating tuition fees.

Students fear that other universities could follow suit. This could lead to an exodus from private universities to state universities, which are already underfunded and overburdened.



The worst economic crisis since 30 years ago

Lebanon is in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the end of the 15-year civil war 30 years ago. The Mediterranean country is extremely indebted. The situation has worsened due to the corona pandemic and the consequences of the explosions in Beirut. The Lebanese pound has been in free fall since summer. Almost half of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the United Nations.

Politically, too, the situation in Lebanon is considered fragile. The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned at the beginning of the year due to ongoing protests. After several failed government formations, he is now back in office.

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