In Lebanon, no offense allowed even if none is taken


nasrallah_jesus_dollsBEIRUT, November 12, 2008 (Menassat) – It wasn’t long after Jocelyne Saab had toasted the opening of her first photo exhibition – Sense, Icons and Sensibility – that problems began to arise. The exhibit illustrates Eastern and Western concepts and Arab perceptions of the West in a catchy, and to some quite kitschy or even distasteful way.

The morning after the exhibit opened last week at Beirut’s Planet Discovery, an event attended by over 200 people, including diplomats and representatives from Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture, the venue owner demanded that the artist remove images thought too provocative.

The image that sparked most controversy, Saab’s spokesperson Nasri Sayegh said, was a photo titled “American-Israeli playground”, which shows Christ on a crucifix surrounded by photos of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and undressed Barbie dolls in the background.

Sayegh stressed that it was not official censorship but a “private decision” by the owners of the gallery that led to the removal.


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