Lebanon News

Love in the time of revolution: Thawra Crushes goes viral

Lebanese graffiti artist draw murals and slogans on the wall of the headquarters of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA), in the centre of the capital Beirut on October 25, 2019, on the ninth day of protest against tax increases and official corruption. / AFP / ANWAR AMRO

BEIRUT: “Revolution pick up line: Give me your number so I can call you and wake you up to go to the protests,” the first post on the Instagram account @thawracrushes reads.

The account aims to help people across the country find their protest love interests - strangers spotted in a sea of demonstrators.

It first appeared on Oct. 20, three days into Lebanon’s uprising, in which hundreds of thousands of people have called for the fall of the government, the president, early elections and an end to the sectarian system that has governed the country for decades.

Since then, Thawra Crushes has gone viral, offering a touch of humor to the demonstrations that have swept the country over the last two weeks. The site now has more than 1,000 posts and over 7,000 followers. Its bio reads, “To find all of your crushes. All of them means all of them,” a play on the chant demanding that every member of the ruling class relinquish their positions of power.

The site’s founder, 18-year-old Alaa Khattab, created the account as a means of tearing down the barriers of sectarian division.

“The main reason I started it was the revolution. Second, was to break the walls between us. Between Christians, Druze, Muslims, everyone,” Khattab told The Daily Star.

Instagram users send a picture of their crush to the account. Khattab then approves the picture and shares it. Followers who recognize the person can then tag the image to identify them.

What happens after that is up to the crush and the person who sent the picture.

Khattab said she had received many messages from followers saying they had successfully found their crush and met up in the real world. And not just in Lebanon.

One 24-year-old user, who asked that her name be changed, told The Daily Star about her budding love story, which started on Thawra Crushes. Sarah, who is a Lebanese-American living in Detroit, said she spotted her crush at a solidarity protest in the city. He first caught her eye because he looked like Mashrou’ Leila’s frontman Hamed Sinno, who also happens to be a follower of @thawracrushes. She sent a request for the mystery man to be identified and quickly received a response from him.

“A few days later, we met up, and now we hang out every single day. I want to thank Lebanon for that,” she said.

When asked about privacy, Khattab said that if she received a request to take down a picture, she did so immediately.

She added that the site was not exclusively for romance, saying she had received numerous requests to identify people whom users wanted to thank for their help during the protests. Others have also sought people with whom they want to start friendships.

“I’m hoping that in the future I’ll turn this into Lebanese Crushes, [just] for fun,” Khattab said.

“People really want to know each other. It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that I can help bring people together. That’s what we all want, at the end of the day.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 04, 2019, on page 3.

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