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Richmond Residents Unite in Solidarity with Lebanese Protests

This protester attend Saturday's rally at Capitol Square
This protester (center) drove for two hours from Virginia beach to attend Saturday's rally at Capitol Square. (Photo: Helen Zein Eddine for VPM News)

More than 100 Richmonders rallied at the Virginia State Capitol Saturday in solidarity with the massive demonstrations in Lebanon.

Protesters chanted “everyone means everyone,” echoing many of the same demands of demonstrations across Lebanon calling for the government to resign.

Maya Khoury, a local organizer, says family members back home are facing challenging conditions. 
“It's definitely pretty bad with what they're going through with losing jobs and their low wages and things like that. So definitely they may want a change and they want to see it in a positive direction,” she said.
The Lebanese demonstrations have brought together 18 different sects. Local organizer Nael Abouzaki told the crowd that the Richmond rally aims to unite a country that has been divided for decades. 

“We're all Lebanese. It doesn't matter where you're from, your religion, your background. We're here to unify ourselves under one flag,” he said. 

Many of the people gathered were dressed in the colors of the Lebanese flag, red, white, or green. One protester born to a Lebanese mother shared a personal wish with the crowd. Natalie Schwartz said: “I hope one day I get to be a Lebanese citizen like you.” Under the current Lebanese Nationality Law, Lebanese women cannot pass their citizenship on to their children or spouses. 

The protests in Lebanon have entered a third week, and the demonstrations are leaderless, which VCU student Guiliano Melke says is a good thing.

“We're the leaders of the protest. So you don't need a leader for a change. You need anger and sadness and hope and and and hope for the future,” said Guiliano.

In addition to Richmond, solidarity rallies took place in other US cities, including Cleveland, Denver, and Boston.

VPM intern Helen Zein Eddine reported this story.

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