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Hackers take down 15 Lebanese government websites

posted 17 Apr 2012, 07:50 by Mpelembe   [ updated 17 Apr 2012, 07:51 ]

A group called ''Raise Your Voice'' says it has hacked into 15 government websites in Lebanon to protest against the government and demand higher living standards.

A group calling itself "Raise Your Voice" hacked into 15 Lebanese government websites on Tuesday (April 16), demanding an improvement in living standards and an end to widespread electricity and water shortages.
Lebanon's economy has grown strongly in recent years but that growth has failed to translate into improvements in basic public services and infrastructure. Many people blame corruption and political wrangling for poor services and high prices.

"We will not stop until the standards of living are raised to where they should be in Lebanon," said a message from the group, posted on different government websites.

Websites of the National News Agency, the Presidency and energy and water, justice and foreign affairs ministries were among those hacked.

The text was accompanied by a cartoon of an obese man in a suit, symbolising the government, being fed with a spoon by an emaciated man wearing only a white loincloth, representing the Lebanese people.

"We will not stop until this government's self-made problems are solved, like the power shortage, water shortage, rise in gas prices and rise in food product prices," the text said.

After resetting his website, Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil posted a reply to the hackers, blaming his predecessor, a member of the Hezbollah party who Bassil took over from in 2009, for the daily power and water cuts.

He said that when he took over, his ministry was like a hot potato: "(My predecessor) thought that it would burn us," he wrote.

Bassil has planned to provide the country with 24 hours of electricity by 2014, and said in his reply on Tuesday that he has formed a "rescue plan for the sector with consensus for all the parties".

in the streets of Beirut the hackers action was welcomed by some and criticized by others.

''It was something that was bound to happen knowing the Internet technology that is available, so people were going to do this eventually, although I wish they used their skill in another way to benefit the people," said a Lebanese man, Ghayath Itani.

''That's a great statement. I liked that they did it so that the government will fix things. It's a good opportunity for them,'' added fellow resident, Suleiman Tanios Shehwan.

Ruling over a country of only four million, Lebanon's government has often been paralysed by squabbling amongst its religiously and politically opposed members, many of them in parties that were formed during the 15-year civil war.

"Raise Your Voice" described itself on the hacked websites as "simply a group of people who could not bare sitting in silence, watching all the crimes and injustice going on in Lebanon".