A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

“the sectarian state in the trash bin”: political graffiti

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 15, 2008

Both yesterday and this morning I took my camera with me as I walked through Hamra on my way to the gym. Here’s what I saw yesterday: lots and lots of flying swastikas stenciled onto building walls, like this one towards the start of Sidani Street:

The swastikas are interesting, and many people, from journalists to bloggers, have commented on them. But look at this photo again. The swastika is only one of several interesting things happening in it.

First, the black graffiti’ed text, which pre-dated last week’s invasion. It reads: “The sectarian state [al-dawla al-ta2ifiya] bil-zabala [in the trash bin]”. A nice sentiment, even if I’m skeptical about how deeply it is held.

But the graffiti has been “deleted” by the SSNP, in the same way that the pro-Mustaqbal graffiti I mentioned yesterday has been. Apparently the Qawmi-s have no problem with sectarianism.

And look a bit further left, to the very edge of the photo: do you notice the start of an Arabic word graffiti written in red? ta7 something. I don’t know what it means – its a longer word, with a mim and some other letters, that I didn’t recognize – but I saw it twice elsewhere in western Hamra yesterday.

Whatever word it was, it must have been an offensive one. This morning I noticed that it, and it alone, had been painted over with white paint.

And now look to the right of the flying swastika. Do you see the graffiti artist’s tag? Here’s the same image, but zoomed in a bit:

This tag was not here before, and it is now all over western Hamra.

The easternmost place I have seen it is on the western wall of the Atallah Freij building on Omar Abdul Aziz (for Lebanese readers who are pffft’ing at my use of street names: this is the street that takes you from Hamra down to Bliss Street. Its first cross-street has an HSBC on the left-hand corner, and its second has the Atallah Freij building.).

Yesterday, Atallah Freij sported three flying swastikas and this tag; today I noticed that the flying swastikas have been scrubbed off. They aren’t really gone, but they have at least morphed into circles of pink paint stain. I’ve seen a few other scrubbed pink circles on Sidani as well – bravo to those men and women courageous enough to take back their walls.

Here are two more examples of the SSNP’s graffiti artist’s tag:

I can’t read what it says – but I’d be grateful to anyone who can.

H says that he is surprised that a graffiti artist would have gotten involved in last week’s fighting, because most graffiti artists stay out of politics. The idea that one of Beirut’s many talented graffiti artists participated in last week’s takeover is pretty depressing – so if anyone can suggest other reasons for this tag’s sudden appearance, I would be grateful for that as well.

2 Responses to ““the sectarian state in the trash bin”: political graffiti”

  1. Leila said

    I hadn’t noticed that their flag is a flying swastika. That makes sense, given Antoun Saada’s inspiration in Nazi and fascist movements. But if you look closely, the emblem is actually identical to the flying stars that ninjas use. In fact, should you ever need ninja equipment (one never knows, in Beirut), you can e-order it here (they’re on sale: 3 for $2.99):


  2. […] Posted by adiamondinsunlight on May 20, 2008 On Friday I took a photograph of the graffiti tag on Omar Abdul Aziz Street that I mentioned last Thursday: […]

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