Pix to a story

Some time ago, during the ‘events’ of May, I posted a story about graffiti painting in the streets of Beirut. These are the accompanying pictures. (The faces of the police officers have been ‘pinked out’ at their own request, since they are not allowed to have their photographs taken while on duty…)

And this was the story: ‘Circulating between the three or four bars still operating in Gemmayzeh on saturday night (both Hamra and Monnot being out of the circulation for obvious reasons). Contrary to the previous few days, the lone open bars are packed to the brim with people tentatively celebrating the lull in the fighting (in Beirut at least) and the slightly promising understanding between HA and the government that had just been announced. At some point, I team up with some youths going out onto the street to spray graffiti representing, or meant to represent, a peace message. It consists of the slogan ‘Power of the Underground’, positioned above three stylized men with bandanas on their faces, each holding up a peace sign in a circle in one hand stretched above their head. Only, when not sprayed very carefully, they can easily be mistaken for three bearded man throwing bombs… Everybody is tipsy and the whole operation is carried out without much care for discretion, so predictably, after three or four spraying sessions, two of the police that are always stationed on Gemmayzeh arrive and want to know what the fuzz is all about. The girl who’s doing the actual spraying puts on her sweetest smile and explains it is an action for peace in Lebanon. ‘Peace in Lebanon? What the f*** are you talking about, are you nuts? Can’t you see what’s going on?’ ‘Yeah, we know, but what can we do? Stay in our homes, watching sectarian scare-mongering channels on TV and be brainwashed and afraid, like everybody else? At least we go out and try to do something constructive, you know, it’s not like we’re shooting RPG’s at each other…’ By this time the cops are broadly smiling, touched by the innocent naiveté and presumably happy there is still some left in the country, and it ends up with them posing for a picture in front of the police van, in uniform carrying their guns, on either side of the girl who is holding the spraycan, with the template in front… Well, they couldn’t very well arrest some kids for spraying graffiti while standing by idly while militiamen kill each other, destroy houses and take over entire town quarters, I suppose…


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