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Hopes of young Lebanese to escape sectarianism put to test

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019 file photo, anti-government protesters form a human chain as a symbol of unity, during ongoing protests against the Lebanese government, on the Mediterranean waterfront promenade, in Beirut, Lebanon. Protestors’ demands pit them against leaders they accuse of stoking fear to secure sectarian allegiance and of trading economic favors for loyalty. They also put them up against regional allies of local factions. The power-sharing system has largely contained sectarian animosities since the war ended but has also meant that jobs are often allotted according to sectarian quotas instead of merit. AP Photo/Bilal Hussein, File)

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s protests are bringing out people from across the country’s spectrum of faiths and communities trying to throw out the entire ruling elite. They give a glimpse into a Lebanon transcending longtime divisions among sects.

But the young protesters face an entrenched political leadership that depends on sectarianism and an older generation that fears disrupting it could bring back civil war.

That threat resonates less with a generation that has little or no memory of a war that ended in 1990.

The protests erupted over proposed new taxes but snowballed into calls for the entire political elite to go. For them, sectarian power-sharing is bound together with corruption and mismanagement that has impoverished them and left infrastructure so decrepit that power outages hit every day.

Mariam Fam, The Associated Press