BEIRUT — Lebanon was virtually shut down Thursday by the first general strike in 35 years, a nationwide walkout against war and the nation's most severe economic crisis since it gained independence from France 44 years ago.
Beirut's airport and seaport came to a standstill, and schools, businesses, shops, banks, restaurants and government offices closed in the capital.
Only bakeries, pharmacies and hospitals were exempted from the shutdown, called by the General Confederation of Labor Unions. And only physicians and journalists were allowed to move around the city in cars, the federation said.
Beirut's 13 daily newspapers announced a two-day shutdown in support of the strike.
'The Last Chance'
"This is the last chance for the authorities to do something," said Antoine Bechara, head of the 250,000-strong federation. "If the strike doesn't work, we are a dying nation."