Riots broke out in the Mar Elias neighborhood of Beirut late last night, and quickly spread all over the city. Srilankan, Filipino and Egyptian maids took to the streets smashing the storefronts of the boutiques that sell those humiliating maid uniforms and looting the offices of the liaison agencies that brought them to Lebanon. In tow, the Lebanese flags that they were once forced to carry while attending March 14th rallies with their masters, as well as their masters’children, who were raised by the maids, and have declared their solidarity with them. Shortly after 2AM, some maids broke into the home of Saad Hariri and other prominent rich Beirutis, forced him into a grey-and-white maid's uniform and paraded him around the street, with a leash around his neck.
The riots quickly spread to the Gulf region, with Southeast Asian workers taking up arms against their Saudi/ Emirati/ Kuwaiti employers. A communiqué was delivered to the offices of Al Jazeera in Beirut expressing the maids’ demands. They claim they will release Saad Hariri and end the riots if and when the following demands are met: a 35-hour work week, full benefits, decent housing, an end to corporal punishment and sexual harassment by their masters, equal protection under the law, marriage rights, salary increases, a radio station, and free education and citizenship for their Lebanese-born children.
Geraldina Marcos, employed by the Khoury family in Rabih, is suspected of instigating the revolt. When police raided the Khoury house, they found thousands of pamphlets and a print press in the broom closet in which she lived. Mr. Khoury told the press, "We had no idea that she wasn't happy working for us. She seemed perfectly content." His wife added, "I never trusted her. On a few occasions, I caught her casting seductive looks at my husband." Geraldina Marcos was unavailable for comment. A spokesperson for the March 14th coalition accused pro-Syrian elements of working to destabilize the country, and said that the maids' protests were serving Damascus' interests.