Provocative’ political posters blanket Beirut’s buildings and streets

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  • Elections will be held on May 6, 2018.
  • Large placards showing huge, grinning faces of candidates drape the sides of buildings, walls, and alleys in Beirut.

BEIRUT: While Sunday’s historic parliamentary elections are exciting Lebanese voters across the country, the political posters and banners promoting candidates blanketing the capital’s infrastructure are not.

“The posters are a disgrace because they are an annoyance — there’s nothing good about these posters, everyone is posting a picture of a political leader that paid them money, and they don’t even like them,” Tarek, a gift shop manager in Beirut’s Hamra district, told Arab News.

Large placards showing huge, grinning faces with slogans underneath drape the sides of buildings in the capital, while walls and alleys are completely covered with more than 20 smaller versions of the larger one.

Across the country, posters are displayed in a variety of ways, from traditional prints to digital billboards. Anyone passing through an area is able to tell its allegiance due to the amount of banners promoting a certain party.

Towards the southern areas of the capital, posters showing Iran-backed Hezbollah and Amal party candidates are prominent, while Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri’s Future Movement are freely displayed in central Beirut.

The number of posters placed and the time spent hanging them has left local business owners furious.

“I paid $1,000 for my restaurant’s sign to be put up in my new branch, but the company called to apologize and said that all its workers were too busy putting up political posters,” Mohammed Nsouli, owner of Bliss street’s Abu Afif sandwich shop, told Arab News.

Currency exchange store owner Mohammed Shaaban said that local municipalities should be issuing fees on the posters hung, just as his store’s sign is issued a fee for being placed.

While Nsouli and Shaaban are frustrated with the banner postings’ affect on their own businesses, local produce stand owner Siham Ghanem believes that the posters provoke citizens and only cause problems among the people.

In 2015, the country’s main political groupings enforced a poster ban after gunbattles, car bombs and skirmishes on the border with Syria highlighted the need for reconciliation — but they have not held back during this year’s political elections.

Lebanon’s last parliamentary elections took place in 2009 and have been postponed twice in 2013 and 2014 due to “political deadlock and the civil war in neighboring Syria,” according to Reuters reports.

Stakes are high in the long-awaited May 6 poll, the first test of Lebanon’s 2017 voting law, which will set the country’s political and economic path for years to come.
The next parliament will select Lebanon’s future prime minister and legislate on major social and economic issues, while attempting to keep sectarian tensions in check.

BY: TAREK ALI AHMAD

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