- Title: Memorial sculpture at Beirut port blast site gets mixed views
- Date: 2nd August 2021
- Summary: FIRE-FIGHTERS PUTTING FLOWERS NEAR SCULPTURE DURING THE UNVEILING CEREMONY (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE ARCHITECT WHO LOST HIS MOTHER TO THE BEIRUT BLAST, JOSEPH CHARTOUNI, 46, SAYING: "When you have professionals, engineers, independent companies supporting the project, putting their effort of building such a project for eight or seven months, thinking, building, executing, struggling to find possibilities and solutions, definitely I will support." VARIOUS OF THE SCULPTURE (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE ARCHITECT WHO LOST HIS MOTHER TO THE BEIRUT BLAST, JOSEPH CHARTOUNI, 46, SAYING: "For me the fact that it is somehow made of steel of all the scrap, of the steel that exists from the site, it is already a statement." VARIOUS OF DRONE SHOTS SHOWING THE SCULPTURE AT BEIRUT PORT / BEIRUT PORT SILOS IN THE BACKGROUND (MUTE) (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE FILMMAKER, RAWANE NASSIF, SAYING: "The killers have complete impunity of their crime and we are already pretending something is past and we are trying to transcend it through art. I am against that." BEIRUT PORT SILOS SCULPTURE AT BEIRUT PORT / SILOS IN THE BACKGROUND VARIOUS OF PEOPLE PROTESTING OUTSIDE BEIRUT PORT DURING THE UNVEILING OF THE SCULPTURE EVENT / PEOPLE HOLDING BANNER READING (Arabic): "The crime remains in our eyes" (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE FILMMAKER. RAWANE NASSIF, SAYING: "On top of it, I feel this is a crime scene, and a crime scene cannot be touched yet, it has to be investigated, you don't come and make an event and money of a crime scene, still on the bodies of the people that died there." BEIRUT, LEBANON (JULY 27, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THE SCULPTURE BEING ERECTED WORKERS WORKING ON THE SCULPTURE SCULPTURE ERECTED WORKERS WORKING ON THE SCULPTURE SCULPTURE ERECTED BEIRUT, LEBANON (AUGUST 2, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE ARCHITECT, CREATOR OF "THE GESTURE" ARTWORK, NADIM KARAM, SAYING: "All our intention(s) are positive, we have no affiliation to any political party nor to any politics or not to any politicians." SCULPTURE (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEBANESE ARCHITECT, CREATOR OF "THE GESTURE" ARTWORK, NADIM KARAM, SAYING: "This "Gesture", which is a gesture for Beirut, is mainly to say we are here because he is here, and he reflects Beirut, he reflects Beirut in its sadness, in its anger, because it is made of scars, you know, it's made of the traces of the explosion as is it."
- Embargoed: 16th August 2021 21:58
- Keywords: Beirut port blast Lebanon anniversary sculpture
- Location: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA003EOL7XVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A sculpture of a giant angular figure made from the wreckage of last summer's Beirut port blast was unveiled at the site on Monday (August 2), drawing support from some but also stoking anger among other Lebanese who believe justice should come before memorials.
The artwork dubbed "The Gesture" is the creation of Lebanese architect Nadim Karam, a Beirut resident and artist who says he wanted to pay tribute to the families of the victims of the explosion. It was funded by a number of private companies.
"You have a giant made out of the scars of the city, made out of the scars of people whose wounds did not yet close," Karam said, adding he hoped the families of those who lost their lives would look at the work positively.
The Beirut port blast left more than 200 dead, thousands injured, and large swathes of the city destroyed. One year afterwards, no top officials have been held accountable as a local investigation stalls.
Some relatives of victims attended the event on Monday, saying Karam was trying to claim part of the city for the public.
But others were angry at the project, saying there should be no commemoration without justice being served.
A social media campaign denouncing Karam and accusing him of collaborating with the government spread a week prior to the unveiling.
Rawan Nassif, a 37-year-old filmmaker, is one of many Lebanese offended by the structure, saying the blast shouldn't be treated as a memory yet.
But Karam defended his work.
"All our intentions are positive and we have no affiliation to any political party nor to any politicians," Karam said, adding that claims about him being associated with top officials were false.
(Production: Alaa Kanaan, Imad Creidi, Ahmad al-Kerdi, Issam Abdallah, Yara Abi Nader, Maria Semerdjian. Maha El Dahan)
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