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Two activists arrested for graffiti art

(Maharat/IFEX) – 21 April 2012 – On April 20, 2012, around midnight, activists Khodor Salameh and Ali Fakhri were arrested for expressing their opinion through artistic painting on the wall "Graffiti" in the Bechara el Khoury area in Beirut.

The activist Abir Ghattas told Maharat that Fakhri and Salameh had begun painting on a concrete wall near the excavations under the bridge in Bechara el Khoury area, when they were arrested by the Lebanese army. Ghattas added that this is not the first time that Fakhri and Salameh had been confronted by the security forces for reasons related to freedom of expression.

The activist Saad al Kurdy, who is a friend of Fakhri and Salameh, told Maharat that they were painting political slogans in support of the Arab revolutions, and that these paintings were the main reason for their arrest; even though the police did not give a reason for the activists' detention. Al Kurdy added that Fakhri and Salameh were first taken to the Karantina station and then to the military police and that they are now in Damascus road station.

Salameh is the author of the blog “Hungry”, which was nominated for the BOBs International Blog Awards by Deutsche Welle for the best blog out of 11 around the world. In addition, Salameh is famous for blogging and his two recent articles are “circus in the parliament” and “to the president of the Lebanese Republic Michel Suleiman”.

Fakhri is an activist in “Nassawiya” and is part of a campaign against racial discrimination in Lebanon towards foreign workers.

This is not the first time that activists are arrested for drawing graffiti. Semaan Khawam was tried in the military court for breaking the rules as he painted in the summer of 2011 a character with the military uniform on a wall at Karantina.

Maharat Foundation condemns the arrest of activists Salameh and Fakhri for expressing themselves through graffiti and calls on the Lebanese authorities to release them immediately since their detention is a blatant attack on individual freedom expressed through the use of art.

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