What was supposed to be a general strike over the minimum wage (the demonstration for which was finally canceled) has turned in to street clashes between Sunni and Shi’a. As usual. I crossed over to West Beirut this morning and back just now by the port road, and besides the empty streets and smoke in the air from burnt tires up by the tent city, nothing was out of the ordinary. Watching the news, however, I can see that at one point the highway was blocked with burned out tires.
My friend S, on the other hand, lives in Corniche el-Mazra’a, where there has been fighting most of the day. She just told me that they haven’t seen any army troops in over an hour, just militiamen from Amal and Mostaqbal (Future Movement) carrying guns and RPG launchers. They don’t have any electricity and have had to leave the living room, because the windows are too big. There have been other clashes in the usual places: Cola, Museitbeh, Tariq el-Jadida, Tayounneh and Ras el-Naba’a, amongst others.
It’s really depressing to me how even an issue like raising the minimum wage, which should have appeal across sectarian lines, inevitably turns into an excuse for thugs from vying political parties to fight in the street.