From March 28 to July 28, 2019, the Institute of Cultures of Islam presents “It is Beirut”, exhibition curated by Sabyl Ghoussoub.
The works of sixteen photographers and videographers testify to the place of the individual, religion and community in Beirut today, since the Israeli-Lebanese conflict of 2006.
In the course of the meetings which punctuate this cultural season, C’est Beyrouth gives to see differently the upheavals and the boiling of the Lebanese society. Today we offer an interview with Hassan Ammar who was interested in a new fashion phenomenon.
Why are you interested in tattoos, and those of the Shiite community in particular?
In general, I like tattoo particularly hand made tattoo.
When I left Lebanon 2003 the tattoo was not very common among Muslims, in 2015 when I went back to Lebanon I saw a growing number of Shiite Muslims in Lebanon were getting tattoos with religious and other Shiite symbols.
I started to speakwith friends and discovered that almost all of the Shiite Muslims got their tattoos after the Syrian war and the tattoos were more than art for them. One of the man I interviewed told me, “we can’t respond with car bombs, but [through tattoos] we can show our strength and love for the prophet and his family”.
Some of them the men I photographed are fighters with Hezbollah some of them are civilian but all have the same ideology.
After photographing all these people, how do you explain this phenomenon ?
The Syrian war has shown the division between Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities. Unfortunately, I do not know if this this division will end soon.
For you, what do these images tell about Beirut?
Beirut it different from any of the cities in the Mideast, after 15 years of civil war and all the tension during the Syrian war, you still have a freedom that you can’t find in most of the Muslim countries.