- Title: Memorial sculpture at Beirut port blast site gets mixed views
- Date: 2nd August 2021
- Summary: BEIRUT, LEBANON (AUGUST 2, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF KARAM STANDING AMONG ATTENDEES OF THE UNVEILING CEREMONY FOR THE SCULPTURE
- 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: LVA002EOL7XVR
- 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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