BEIRUT — What is driving people all over the world into the streets to protest? In the Middle East, protesters say it started with desperation and anger, and now there is no going back.
Ali Shamari was 29 years old when his home in Fallujah, Iraq, was bombed in a battle with Islamic State militants.The roof collapsed and his wife, mother, father, brother, sister, son and two small daughters were all inside. Shamari was the only survivor. Five years later, he is living in a tent in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, protesting full-time against a government he says is so neglectful and corrupt that children are dying.
"I have nothing left to lose so I will never leave this protest," he said. "We need security, health care, education, justice and jobs. If they kill us here, we will die, so the next generation can maybe have these basic rights."
Hundreds of people have been killed in the Iraq protests that started last month, and thousands more have been injured as clashes continue to break out between protesters and security forces. Fewer than two weeks ago, militiamen in Fallujah set fire to his rebuilt house in retaliation for his presence at the protests, according to Shamari.
In Lebanon, mass protests have mostly remained peaceful for the past month and a half, but sectarian riots erupted early Monday, after sporadic clashes and the death of one activist.
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