From India to Algeria to Lebanon, people are protesting both against their governments and their controversial policies. Here's a quick look into what's happening on the ground.
Protests in Iraq resumed from October 1, taking a deadly turn shortly after demonstrators took to the streets over a lack of basic services and jobs and rising corruption. Security forces and unidentified men that many protesters accuse of being Iranian-backed militias are accused of killing more than 400 people, mostly protesters. The renewed agitation led Iraqi Prime Minister Adell Abdul Mahdi to resign -- a major success for Iraqis in the streets. However, the protests still continue despite the PM’s exit, as they demand both a full replacement of the government as well as a new impartial prime minister.
In Algeria, the protests since February 2019 resulted with the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April. But newly elected President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, a former prime minister, wasn’t welcomed by Algerian protesters either when he was declared the winner of the elections on December 13.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets ahead of the elections and called for a boycott of the vote on December 12. Videos circulated on social media showed empty polling stations but the government says Tebboune received 58 per cent of the ballots cast. The protesters see the vote following Bouteflika’s resignation as a game played by the military, as the country’s strong military figure Ahmed Gaid Salah became the driving force pushing for the elections.
On October 17, mass protests began in Beirut as the government announced a tax on Whatsapp calls. Thousands of peaceful protesters managed to reverse the decision, forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in late October. But they kept protesting with the demands of new economic reforms and an end to the corruption that they blame for the country’s long standing civic problems.
Lebanese protesters remained peaceful and cheerful, with songs they sang together, board games they played at the protest squares and even a DJ playing to thousands of them from a balcony. But that has changed after nearly two months. On December 14, the country’s president postponed the political consultations that were likely to re-appoint Hariri as Prime Minister.
Amid a political deadlock, riot police and protesters from opposing camps clashed. For the first time, the security forces fired rubber bullets at protesters, as they tried to move to the parliament and government headquarters.
A new citizenship law excluding Muslims sparked protests in India’s capital New Delhi and other north-eastern states last week. The peaceful demonstrations are posing a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's majority government. According to the new law approved by the parliament on December 11, the religion will become a criteria for Indian nationality, and critics say subsequent measures such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) have increased the chances of jeopardising the citizenship of 200 million Indian Muslims, which may end up with robbing them of their constitutional rights.
A young Muslim woman who was photographed while trying to protect a friend became a symbol of the protest movement that has gripped the country.
The deadliest unrest since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 hit Iran in mid-November after the government increased fuel prices by 50 per cent and rescinded fuel subsidies. The economic frustration in the sanction-hit country quickly triggered outrage against the government with protesters demanding regime change. In response, the government launched a violent crackdown on protesters. Iranian authorities have not yet announced the death toll, but Amnesty International puts the number at 304. Protests across Iran was suppressed by the security forces in the country with state media says more than 1,000 protesters had been arrested in an immediate crackdown.