Thousands of Lebanese formed a human chain on Sunday along highways and coastal roads in a show of solidarity with anti-government protests.

The protesters joined hands along a main bridge connecting central Beirut to the north and south on the 11th day of nationwide protests.

Ignited by anger at proposed economic reforms, the protests rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the political elites who have governed the country since the end of its 1975-1990 civil war.

“We are demanding our rights, so our country will be better and more beautiful for our kids and for us,” said Marcel Karkour, who joined the human chain with her two children.

Julian Bourjeili, an architect who joined the chain with his fiancée, said it was a message of “love and solidarity.”

“We are showing the civilized and peaceful image of this movement, and God willing, this chain will reach its maximum number of people.”

Al Jazeera reports that tens of thousands of people joined hands from Tripoli to Tyre, along 170 kilometres of coastal roads running north to south, across the entire country, to symbolize national unity and unprecedented cross-sectarian mobilization.

The rallies have paralyzed a country already grappling with a severe fiscal crisis. But they have also united demonstrators from Lebanon’s many religious communities and political factions, with many directing their anger at their own representatives.

Demonstrators form a human chain during ongoing anti-government protests in Tripoli, Lebanon, on Sunday. (Omar Ibrahim/Reuters)

The protests were ignited in part by a government plan to tax WhatsApp calls and have swept Lebanon at a time of deep economic crisis.

The historic wave of demonstrations is aimed at political leaders blamed for corruption and for steering the country toward economic collapse.

Last Monday, Lebanon’s government approved its 2020 budget with reforms that included no new taxes, but protesters continue to demand the government’s resignation, angry at a sectarian ruling elite they accuse of plundering state resources for personal gain.

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