Exhibition of photos chronicling social unrest in Lebanon opens in Washington DC

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A woman dances on October 18, 2019, day two of the uprisings in Jounieh.
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Lebanese motorists drive by a fire in Beirut on the first day of protests against the government’s newly established WhatsApp tax, which ignited the Lebanese popular uprising against years of economic and political mismanagement.
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Aida sits in her living room next to a photo of her husband Kamal Geadah. On August 19, 1985, Kamal was riding back home from work with his nephew when they were stopped at a checkpoint. Both of them were taken away and never seen again.
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On the 90th day of the uprising, a protester jumps over burning tires used to block the road in Beirut’s Saifi district.
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Updated 09 July 2020

Exhibition of photos chronicling social unrest in Lebanon opens in Washington DC

  • MEI’s ‘Lebanon Then and Now’ showcases upheaval from 2006 onwards

BEIRUT: The Washington-based Middle East Institute (MEI) will launch its online exhibition “Lebanon Then and Now — Photography from 2006 to 2020” this weekend.

The show, which runs until September 25, focuses on the lingering effects of Lebanon’s civil war, highlighted by the uprisings that began in the fall and continue today as Lebanon faces its worse post-war crisis amid economic and political chaos.

Rita Nammour, chairperson of the Beirut Museum of Art, USA and president of the Association for the Promotion and Exhibition of the Arts in Lebanon (APEAL), both of which collaborated with the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in partnership with MEI to co-produce the show, said that “Lebanon Then and Now” couldn’t be more timely.

“We are living in a nightmare,” she said. “Lebanon’s currency has been devalued to alarming levels and poverty is soaring. Hopes and dreams expressed in the early days of Lebanon’s protests appear shattered, but people are holding on.”

Nammour hopes the exhibition can “remind the world of Lebanon’s aspirations for a better future.”

The immersive virtual exhibition offers a tour of images captured by 17 photographers and a filmmaker that show the dizzying social, political, and economic upheavals that have rocked Lebanon for the past 16 years.

Lyne Sneige, director of the MEI Arts and Culture Center described the content of the show. “Some of Lebanon’s finest young photographers chronicle the tensions and the unresolved issues that led to the current crisis in response to the country’s political and financial collapse,” she said.

Lebanon-based curator Chantale Fahmi selected the images from two recent exhibitions: The IMA’s “Lebanon: Between Reality and Fiction,” which opened in Paris in September 2019 and APEAL’s “Revolt,” held in the heart of Beirut, which showcased large-scale reproductions mounted outside the dilapidated Egg — which Fahmi described as “the hollow ruin of a wartime cinema that became a hub for intellectuals, academics, activists and students seeking to make sense of a set of circumstances gripping the country by the throat.”

Fahmi sought to weave themes from the Paris and Beirut shows into a tapestry of suppressed and unaddressed injustices and war legacies. “The collection illuminates the power of photography, both artistic and journalistic, as a conveyor of reality and emotion,” she explained.

Fahmi added that Lebanon’s photography sector has been “developing in exciting way” over the past decade, with photographers working with foreign news agencies and taking advantage of Lebanon’s vibrant arts scene to nurture their talent.

Kate Seelye, vice president for arts and culture programs at MEI, said: “The recasting of the two exhibitions will deepen the understanding of how the past informs and shapes the present. Additionally, this show speaks to the importance of international collaborations, as galleries like ours seek to replace physical audiences with global eyeballs for now.”


Egypt’s El-Sisi warns of instability after protest calls

Updated 27 September 2020

Egypt’s El-Sisi warns of instability after protest calls

  • El-Sisi thanked Egyptians for not heeding the calls, saying the government was undertaking the measures as part of reforms
  • The small-scale demonstrations come amid mounting anger against government campaigns to stop illegal construction

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned on Sunday against attempts to stoke instability in the country, following a recent spate of scattered and small-scale anti-government protests.
“Some people have been trying in recent weeks to take advantage of the tough measures we are taking,” El-Sisi said at a ceremony to inaugurate an oil refining complex north of Cairo.
“They choose the hard conditions to harm and cast doubts among Egyptians over what we do.”
Dozens of people took part in rare protests in recent days in several villages in Egypt, according to videos shared widely on social media, especially by sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed group.
The small-scale demonstrations come amid mounting anger, particularly in rural and low-income areas, against sweeping government campaigns to stop illegal construction, which have required people to pay fines to legalize home-ownership.
Exiled businessman Mohamed Ali, who has urged anti-El-Sisi protests since last year, has intensified his calls in recent weeks in online videos, calling on Egyptians take to the streets against the government.
During his speech, El-Sisi thanked Egyptians for not heeding the calls, saying the government was undertaking the measures as part of reforms.
On Saturday, family and medical sources said a man was killed in clashes between protesters and police in a village south of Cairo.