Lebanon News

Sidon students’ art brings color to military barriers

The students teamed up with professional artists to create murals that took inspiration from nature and cultural heritage. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Following the arrival of more barricades around the Mieh Mieh Palestinian refugee camp, Sidon students have brought color to one long-fortified intersection, repurposing military barriers as canvasses for their own art.

Under the title “Evangelical Institute draws peace” and in coordination with the Army, 25 students from Sidon’s National Evangelical Institute for Girls and Boys turned the gray symbols of division into opportunities for creative expression Tuesday.

Weeks ago, the Army’s announcement that it would place concrete blocks at the entrance and exit of Sidon’s Mieh Mieh camp, aggravated those with properties inside.

But at a nearby intersection known locally as the “American roundabout,” the students teamed up with professional artists to create over 50 murals that took inspiration from nature and cultural heritage.

The now-colorful roundabout, located at an intersection between the Mieh Mieh and Ain al-Hilweh camps and close to a local Army barracks, has always been heavily fortified.

Some paintings on the roundabout expressed students’ feelings of patriotism and pride. Others paid tribute to the Army with symbols of Lebanese independence.

“As usual, the students of the Evangelical School are living the values which they have espoused from the school.

“These values include turning the area they live in and areas around the school from symbols of war into symbols of peace and joy,” said Chadi Mchantaf, the head of secondary education.

“This is what the students have done today by transforming the American roundabout into a scene embodying peace that is beautiful to look at.”

The students also participated in an artistic symposium led by artists from across Lebanon in order to learn to “erase the idea of war,” Mchantaf said.

He commented on the large number of murals that “cover the roundabout” and thanked the Army leadership, which made it possible to decorate the area.

Security concerns have increased in Sidon’s two Palestinian refugee camps, Ain al-Hilweh and Mieh Mieh, as 2018 saw clashes and assassinations in the former and one of the bloodiest fights in years in the latter, leading to the increased security.

Headed by local priest Sassine Gregoire, some residents recently called for the Army to remove the blockades around the Mieh Mieh camp. But the Mieh Mieh municipality rejected the calls, saying that it considered such demands directed “against the Lebanese Army.”

“We refuse any action against the Lebanese Army, which ensures our safety. The Army is present in our town and at the borders of the camp, so it has installed checkpoints and concrete blocks.

“This is the Army’s decision and not ours,” a source from the municipality told The Daily Star. Writing by Jacob Boswall

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 27, 2019, on page 3.

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