Lebanese turmoil withers 'Beirut Spring' optimism
But many young activists are still struggling to maintain the movement that followed in the wake of Hariri's death.
Rafik Hariri's assassination three years ago triggered an uprising in Lebanon. Following the death of the former prime minister, young Lebanese poured onto the streets in a movement that not only pushed out Syrian troops, but also gave rise to a new optimism for political change known as Beirut Spring.
Since then, however, much of the ambition of those young protesters has been eroded by a devastating war with Israel, political turmoil, and ongoing violence.
"Spring 2005 was a very euphoric moment for all of us," says Asma Andraos, president of 05Amam, a civil society group. "Everything was going to suddenly change from a feudal and [client-state] country into a modern democratic transparent country. I think we were all very naive."
Leaders of the anti-Syrian March 14 parliamentary coalition had hoped that a rally last week in downtown Beirut to mark Mr. Hariri's death would rekindle the movement's spirit. But the event was overshadowed by the funeral for Imad Mughnieh, a Hizbullah leader killed in Damascus two days earlier. And many Lebanese who participated in the rallies of the Beirut Spring stayed home, partly because of weather, but also out of a sense of disillusion at the turmoil engulfing Lebanon.