BEIRUT— The protests that sprouted Oct. 17 demanding social and economic reforms brought together people across political, factional and regional lines in Lebanese cities from north to south. In downtown Beirut, this movement and melding of interests has altered the demographic landscape of Martyrs’ Square and Riad al-Solh Square, two of the city's best-known landmarks. Once considered the preserve of the city's elite, these days Lebanese of all social classes are appropriating these public spaces.
Among the protesters and others gathering in the prominent squares of the Lebanese capital, the street hawkers are a remarkable sight. Carrying coffee cups, water bottles and cotton candy, they wander amid the myriad demonstrators, selling their libations and eats. Some of them push stalls and carts hawking kaak (hardened bread) from Tripoli, fava beans, grilled corn on the cob, shawarma sandwiches, juices and Lebanese flags.