When protesters put lives in danger - GulfToday

When protesters put lives in danger

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Lebanon Protest

Citizens of many countries say that protesting is their right.

Citizens of many countries say that protesting is their right. They argue that it’s part of their right to free speech and in those countries they are quite correct, provided they do so peacefully.

The world appears to be in disarray with protests across the globe. People protest for all sorts of reasons. It might be about corruption at top levels of government, such as that in Lebanon, and I think they’re the bravest of all protesters because, after all, they are going up against their leaders. Protests are also about their economic plight in a failing economy or about the climate crisis. Today, times are very strange. Every news item on television depicts scenes of protests in one country or another and each protest is about something specific to the protesters. As far as my memory serves, I don’t recall seeing anything of this kind in recent years, aside from the Arab Spring.

For six months we watched the Hong Kong protests over a controversial extradition bill which was eventually withdrawn by the authorities, presumably to quell the violence that the protests eventually turned into. Moreover, for eight weeks we saw the Yellow Vest protests in France but these were over rising fuel costs. Similarly in Chile recently where people across the country found that the cost of transport was completely unacceptable given the poor economy. Again these too were as a result of rising petrol prices.

Britain has been divided since the Brexit referendum. There are the leavers and there are the remainers. Last week more than a million people marched in protest of Brexit demanding that a second referendum be held. They are convinced that the results would be quite different now that the truth about Brexit is clear and those who voted leave clearly were not properly informed. Yes, protesters chided some of the MPs as they left parliament but it was largely peaceful without any incidences.

Sadly, however, many protests can turn ugly as tempers rise in the moment. In Bolivia, for example people demanded a recount when the chap they voted for did not win. They suspected election fraud and it wasn’t long before a degree of violence erupted.

There are multiple variables to a protest. Some extremists may have the specific aim to confront their opponents into an altercation by chanting controversial slogans. A good case in point is Charlottesville in America which eventually led to the death of one protester. The kinds of protests where the aim is to be violent are rare. After all, no one with an ounce of decency would purposely want to start a fight.

That being said, protests can become violent even when they were not intended to be. I think that most protesters do have common sense. They know that if their protests become violent, their message will be drowned out by the awful images that will be seen around the world. They will invite contempt instead of understanding and sympathy. The only thing people will remember is the violence and not care what they were protesting about.

But sometimes, people will remember what the protest was about despite the violence that ensued. Take the Extinction Rebellion protests that took place across London in the last couple of weeks. ER, as they like to be referred to, protested all over Central London and then made a mistake. They decided to take their message to the underground even though 90% of their members voted against doing so. They caused utter chaos at a station, which is actually highly irresponsible because chaos in a tube station can be a safety hazard for everyone down there.

Trains were held up, people were delayed, crowds accumulated because trains weren’t leaving and, naturally commuters kept pouring into the station thus adding to the chaos. Can you imagine being a passenger stuck in that station unable to get out, unable to get in and unable to get off a train? I’ve been on trains that sometimes stopped in a tunnel for short periods of time and I can assure you that it’s very uncomfortable, especially if the train is packed. It was usually a technical error and we accepted it. When the train moved on, we got off at our station and forgot about it. But imagine if it happens because a group of irresponsible people decided to purposely cause an obstruction.

On this occasion, commuters got angry and, out of frustration, some took matters into their own hands and began attacking the protesters. Those who did not get violent verbally confronted the protesters telling them that what they were doing was out of order and that they had no regard for who might have been on the trains. One said her daughter needed her medicine. Another that they were late for their doctor’s appointment and another about their claustrophobia. These are not excuses but very real concerns.

Everyone understands the issues of climate change but no one appreciates them being rammed down their throats. Not everyone appreciates being forced to do something to help the environment, especially if it means being obstructed from going about their business or if it affects their health or if it means having to spend more money.

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