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A Perfect Metaphor? The Trash Crisis in Lebanon: An Interview With Ziad Abu-Rish

[Overflowing trash in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut in late July 2015. Image by Ziad Abu-Rish] [Overflowing trash in the Hamra neighborhood of Beirut in late July 2015. Image by Ziad Abu-Rish]

On Tuesday, Lebanese security forces arrested and beat up protesters staging a sit-in at the office of the environmental ministry in Beirut.

For the past two weeks, thousands of people have been protesting the government’s inability to provide basic services and demanding an end to the widespread corruption and sectarianism embedded in the country's sectarian political system. Garbage has become a perfect metaphor for the rot of the chronically dysfunctional political system that holds sway in Lebanon today. According to various reports, at one point, an estimated 8000 to 22,000 tonnes of rubbish piled up on the streets.

The movement, called “You Stink,” has tapped into the general anger and frustration with the widespread and unscalable corruption that has paralyzed the country.

Khail Bendin spoke with Ziad Abu-Rish, an assistant professor of history at Ohio university and the co-editor of Jadaliyya, and asked him how much of the #YouStink movement is actually about the garbage crisis itself, and how much of it is about the sheer popular disaffection with the political system in Lebanon.

If you prefer, email your comments to info@jadaliyya.com.

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