Sali Hafiz is a young Lebanese woman of 28 years who this week has caused a furor in networks and became an inspiration for thousands of Lebanese that survive the worst economic crisis.
Through her Tik Tok account, Sali Hafiz was able to record the moment in which she entered a bank in Lebanon to demand her savings to pay for the medical treatment of her sister who suffers from cancer
Since 2019, Lebanon has been submerged in a deep economic crisis that has caused hyperinflation in which the local currency lost almost 90% of its value on the black market, increasing poverty and unemployment.
After three years the bank accounts of the majority of Lebanese are blocked. The banks have blocked the funds of all citizens and that is why they can only withdraw a certain value while the money saved loses value
Sali Hafiz broadcast a lives video of the robbery in which she can be heard yelling at bank employees to give her the money while the bank’s doors are locked. “My name is Sali Hafiz, I came today (…) to collect the deposits of my sister who is dying in the hospital,” she says in the video. “I have not come to kill anyone or start a shootout (…) I have come to claim my rights,” he adds.
The woman immediately became a hero on social media in Lebanon, where many are desperate for her money and angry at the banking sector, which they perceive as corrupt.
According to the Spanish newspaper El País, the government cuts for the purchase of medicines went from 130 million dollars in November 2021 to 35 million. The main affected are cancer patients
Sali Hafiz is an interior designer and an active activist in the protest movement launched in October 2019 against the political class
After she intervenes in the Bank in which she persuades the officials to give her the money with, according to her, a toy pistol belonging to her son, she manages to escape, with 13,000 dollars and 30 million Lebanese pounds (source L’orient le jour),
As some have already called her, the vigilante has become an icon of the revolt against the political class and the banking system in a few hours. A few hours before her theft, the activist would have participated in a demonstration in front of parliament against the 2022 budget bill.
Sali Hafiz streamed a live video of her raid on a Beirut branch of Blom Bank, in which she could be heard yelling at employees to release a sum of money while entrances to the bank were sealed. Hafiz said she managed to free around $13,000 from the $20,000 she said her family had deposited. Cancer treatment for her sister costs $50,000, she said.
She said the family had not been in touch with Hafiz since the heist and was not involved in its planning. Hafiz instantly turned into a folk hero on social media in Lebanon, where many are desperate to access their savings and furious at a banking sector perceived as a corrupt cartel.
“Thank you,” one Twitter user wrote. “Two weeks ago I cried at Blom Bank. I needed the money for surgery. I am too weak to hold a gun and take what is mine.”