A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

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

poster provocation

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 6, 2008

As we drove to H’s parents the other afternoon we noticed that every Sleiman poster had indeed been removed from the highway, as per the president’s recent request, which was the subject of a news article in Monday’s Daily Star and other news outlets:

Publicly displayed posters and banners depicting President Michel Suleiman should be taken down beginning Monday, the newly elected head of state said in a statement issued on Saturday, which urged that the president’s move should set an example to take down the country’s forest of political signs that have often sparked violent confrontations.

Released by the presidential press office, the statement also called on security services and municipal authorities to enforce the request if citizens fail to comply.

While thanking “citizens, institutions, municipalities and cultural organizations for the outpouring of support and affection” that accompanied his recent ascent to the presidency, Suleiman urged Lebanese to remove pictures and placards bearing his likeness.

The president also called upon “Lebanese leaders to take all possible steps in a similar direction and remove pictures, banners and slogans” related to their respective camps, “bearing in mind the negative effect these signs have on the environment as well as the potentially provocative nature” of the images and standards in a social context.

The big banners and billboards on the Dora highway have been taken down, but the smaller posters in the city have not. The SSNP did remove its “welcome to the ra2is” sign from above its gas station headquarters, but the butcher’s shop continues to display its collection of Sleiman posters.

On the other hand, I noticed in Gemmayze the other night that the many small (8×10?) Sleiman posters affixed to the walls had been plastered over with even smaller ads for an upcoming DJ concert. The ads had been strategically placed – smack on top of Sleiman’s face. I suppose that’s one way of honoring the president’s request … !

But Suleiman’s de-postering initiative was not solely aimed at his own image – as the article above (and a more pointed one on Naharnet) suggests, it was meant to spark a broader response. H and I think that this is a great idea – a few less “party” flags and posters and a few more Lebanese flags and posters would be a great step up for this city.

In the meantime, the poster provocations continue – like this one, which was put up around Hamra last weekend. It memorializes the pro-SSNP men who died at the hands of Future supporters in Halba, saying:

This is what they did, the militias of “knowledge” and fanaticism.

(The quote-unquote “knowledge” is a sly commentary on Future’s claim that its only militias were “militias” of education, thanks to the millions of dollars that Rafiq Harir put towards school and university scholarships. He was an incredibly generous donor, and there are many young Lebanese who owe their education to him – but this does not mean that the post-Hariri Future Movement did not also indulge in weapons training.)

As you can see from the poster above, several passersby must have either decided to follow the spirit of President Suleiman’s request or to illustrate why it is such a good idea. They were certainly provoked into some kind of response!

Another poster must have been more successfully dismantled, as I saw this scrap a few blocks further down the street:

The men on this poster haunt me – their faces could be those of any Lebanese man. They do deserve justice, along with every person in Lebanon whose memories of May are colored by fear. I want justice for my neighbors, for my colleagues, for my friends – for everyone who either spent those days shut up inside their homes or fleeing from them.

But justice doesn’t come from these posters – they are merely an incentive towards further provocation.

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4 Responses to “poster provocation”

  1. moose said

    I agree Diamond…
    Methinks they doth protest too much!

  2. *** said

    How do we recognize a modern country? By the fact that the life of every citizen is very important for the state and that
    1. nobody from this country will be left by its country on a bad situation,
    2. justice will always be achieved to find the one that may have hurt them

    I am Lebanese… and I am ashamed. It could have be me, my brother, my grand-mother… who knows.
    But it was not me.
    It was not me so let’s just continue to live…

    Poor Lebanon

  3. moose said

    Well said ***, very poignant. I’m just an expat Moose but I really feel for you and your fellow citizens in this wannabe Switzerland. Courage chérie!

  4. Moose, that’s a good way to put it. There is way too much protesting innocence in this country – coupled with veiled accusations at the protester’s opponent.

    ***, you raise two good points. As for your suggestion that “let’s just continue to live” – I agree, but real living together will not come while injustices on all sides are swept under the rug.

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