Middle East

Tax hike, stagnant wages spark protests in Beirut

  • A Lebanese anti-government demonstrator holds a sign with a photo of the Lebanese government in Arabic that reads "Thieves of Lebanon," as she shouts slogans during a protest against newly approved taxes in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Thousands of demonstrators have descended on central Beirut to protest a broad tax hike they say is unfairly targeting the country's working classes. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

    A Lebanese anti-government demonstrator holds a sign with a photo of the Lebanese government in Arabic that reads "Thieves of Lebanon," as she shouts slogans during a protest against newly approved taxes in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Thousands of demonstrators have descended on central Beirut to protest a broad tax hike they say is unfairly targeting the country's working classes. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)  (The Associated Press)

  • ALTERNATIVE CROP OF XBH112 -- Bodyguards protect Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center left with hand on mouth, from water bottles thrown by demonstrators in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Demonstrators pelted the prime minister's car with water bottles on Sunday as protests against new taxes and a stagnant public wage scale gained force in the city. Hariri got out of his armored convoy behind the police line at the demonstration facing the government's capital building but could get no closer as protesters began throwing water bottles and shouting "Thieves!" (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

    ALTERNATIVE CROP OF XBH112 -- Bodyguards protect Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center left with hand on mouth, from water bottles thrown by demonstrators in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Demonstrators pelted the prime minister's car with water bottles on Sunday as protests against new taxes and a stagnant public wage scale gained force in the city. Hariri got out of his armored convoy behind the police line at the demonstration facing the government's capital building but could get no closer as protesters began throwing water bottles and shouting "Thieves!" (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)  (The Associated Press)

  • Lebanese anti-government protesters shout slogans during a protest against newly-approved taxes, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Thousands of demonstrators descended on central Beirut Sunday to protest a broad tax hike they say is unfairly targeting the country's working classes. The Lebanese government is paralyzed over a budget proposal that would hike over a dozen tax rates to fund a salary hike for teachers and civil servants. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

    Lebanese anti-government protesters shout slogans during a protest against newly-approved taxes, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Thousands of demonstrators descended on central Beirut Sunday to protest a broad tax hike they say is unfairly targeting the country's working classes. The Lebanese government is paralyzed over a budget proposal that would hike over a dozen tax rates to fund a salary hike for teachers and civil servants. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)  (The Associated Press)

Thousands of demonstrators have descended on central Beirut to protest a broad tax hike they say is unfairly targeting the country's working classes.

The Lebanese government is paralyzed over a budget proposal that would hike over a dozen tax rates to fund a salary increase for teachers and civil servants.

Demonstrators in Beirut Sunday say the government has squandered public moneys through shady public-private contracts and should plug the budget deficit by addressing corruption instead.

The Lebanese Parliament has twice extended its own term over disagreements on how to hold elections. Polls are scheduled to take place in May, but top politicians are yet to give a green light.