I just returned from the opposition demonstration in Beirut, and can safely say Lebanon never saw anything like it. Of course, the first thing that will be done is to compare numbers with the Hezbollah demonstration of last Tuesday. Last week's rally probably brought in around 250,000 people, whatever the absurd numbers thrown up by the media (inflation that was as visible in estimating earlier opposition demonstrations). I would guess–and it's just that–that this was double what Hezbollah brought in, if not more. The demonstrations covered an open space roughly double that covered by last week's rally, as well as dozens of side streets, a fifth of the square that Hezbollah had used, and a four lane overpass. People came in from all over Lebanon, and as of noon, they began descending in huge crowds on Beirut's city center.
Ultimately, however, one should look beyond the numbers, since the Lebanese problem won't be resolved solely in the streets. But it is with considerable satisfaction that I expect to read the shit-eating explanations of all those who sneered at the opposition rallies, calling them a "hummus revolution" or, in reference to the stylish clothing of some of the demonstrators, a "Prada spring." Perhaps, too, we will hear the latest take of those analysts who will swallow whatever line they are fed by the Syrians, or who doubted the significance of the opposition in past demonstrations because there were, quite simply, too many Christians and too many middle class protestors for the whole thing to somehow be "authentic".
Well, today there was, well, everybody: Christians and Muslims from all around Lebanon, from all social strata. The professional doubters will, of course, double back and try a vain counterattack, but this is a historic day for the Lebanese, even if the Syrian government and its local appointees do what they have systematically done whenever faced with popular protests: ignore it all. Their time is over.
The latest news is that the government wants to, henceforth, ban all demonstrations. I can see why.