Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Powerful Funeral of a Syrian Graffiti Artist

Nour Hatem Zahra - Syrian Activist
Art Work: Courtesy of his friends
When the Arab Awakening began picking up steam last spring, the people of Syria hoped to rid themselves of brutal dictator Bashar Assad in a fairly timely fashion, just as their Arab brethren in Egypt and Tunisia had ousted their corrupt leaders. 

Instead of fleeing in exile or peacefully transitioning power though, Assad and his supporters dug in. They began to arrest, torture, and murder those who opposed them. And when the opposition began to organize mass demonstrations, with protestors in numbers too great for arrest and detention, security forces began to open fire on them.

Nour Hatem Zahra was one of the thousands of Syrian anti-government activists. Known as "the spray man," the 23 year-old Zahra used spray paint and graffiti to spread the message of revolution and opposition. In 2011, he was apprehended by the government, and his anti-Bashar graffiti landed him in jail for two months. Upon his release, Zahra proved to be undeterred, and the defiant artist quickly returned to his work on the walls of Damascus.

Zahra was shot and killed by Syrian security forces last week, an action that has subsequently elevated the popular activist to the status of martyr. The video clip below contains powerful images from Zahra's funeral celebration: anti-government protestors pouring into the streets by the thousands, carrying signs, dancing, chanting in unison, and looking bold, committed, and unafraid.

As I watched the striking images, I came to the realization that this is what revolution looks like.

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