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Slum Priests in Argentina, between So...
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
18 Jun 2015

Imagine a vicar, bored and tired of giving sermons to old devout women of his parish. His mind is somewhere else. Imagine this same priest all day long, walking around, riding his bike on the dirty and destroyed roads of the Buenos Aires’ slums; trying to avoid all the holes, puddles of water… surrounded sometimes by exchanges of gunfire. In Argentina, slum priests (“curas villeros”) became famous when the Vatican elected Jorge Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis, in February 2013. If Francis is now considered as a “popular” Pope (or Pope “of the poor”), it is thanks to one of the “curas villeros”, Father “Pepe”, who had received Bergoglio in “his” slum to show him the plight of the people in his overwhelmingly impoverished parish.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio himself had always been a fervent partisan of (popular) Liberation theology and tolerated and engaged with the popular devotional practices of these unprivileged populations, mostly composed of immigrants from nearby Bolivia or Paraguay. Popular religiosity is the only leitmotiv of these activist priests. They are often in conflict with the Vatican, who has labeled them as “heretics,” because of their having baptized children of single mothers and for having tolerated popular devotional practices towards unrecognized saints. They don’t hesitate to stray from Catholics dogma, which they sometimes find ignores the issues facing the people in their parishes. At the same time, “slum priests” also stay away from local politics.

“Here (in the “villas”), there are no right or left-wing positions. All the matter is to get water, access to electricity, and to improve daily life,” insists Father Gustavo Carrara.

All around the Argentinean capital and its huge suburbs, these “slum priests” try to help the city’s most impoverished people, whose numbers have increased between 2010 to 2014 with the population of these “villas” passing from 163,000 to 275,000 in Buenos Aires alone, according to the local secretary for housing. Far away from the sumptuous Cathedral of the “Plaza de Mayo” in Buenos Aires, slum priests are practicing in precarious parishes, built by themselves with the unconditional help of neighbours. Among the religiously devout social activists offering their help to these vicars of the poor are psychologists, social workers and spokespeople for the marginalized. Suspicious towards corrupt policemen and the shady politicians, they fight alongside these priests to save the youth from the dangers of the street, from drugs, and to help struggling mothers.

 

Les pretres des pauvres: entre la révolution et l'héresie​

Les prêtres tiers-mondistes en Argentine, entre révolution sociale et hérésie ? Imaginez un curé fatigué de donner des sermons aux vieilles dévotes de sa paroisse. Celles-ci l’ennuient, à la longue, car il a mieux à faire. Imaginez ce curé passant ses journées à déambuler en vélo dans les rues en terres des bidonvilles, en évitant les trous, les flaques d’eau… et les fusillades ! En Argentine, les curés tiers-mondistes (“curas villeros”) sont devenus célèbres lors de l’élection de l’ancien archevêque de Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, devenu le Pape François en février 2013. Si François est aujourd’hui présenté comme le Pape “du peuple” (ou “des pauvres”), c’est essentiellement grâce à l’un de ces “curas villeros”, le Père “Pepe”, qui le recevait dans “son” bidonville, afin de l’alerter des problèmes du peuple.

Aux quatre coins de la capitale argentine, ainsi que dans son immense périphérie, ils viennent en aide aux plus démunis, dont le nombre ne cesse d’augmenter (de 2010 à 2014, la population des “villas” est passée de 163.000 à 275.000 personnes dans la seule ville de Buenos Aires, selon le Secrétariat de l’habitat, et dont les problématiques sont trop souvent oubliées des pouvoirs publics. Bien loin de la Cathédrale fastueuse de la place de Mai de Buenos Aires, les curés villeros exercent dans des paroisses précaires, qu’ils ont souvent dû construire eux-mêmes, avec l’aide inconditionnelle des riverains. Ces sacerdotes hors du commun, vêtus aussi humblement que leurs fidèles, sont un mélange d’assistants sociaux, de psychologues et de porte-paroles des pauvres. Méfiants vis-à-vis des policiers corrompus, des représentants politiques véreux, ils repêchent les jeunes de la rue et de la drogue, assistent les mères désemparées, qui ne savent plus quoi faire de la ribambelle d’enfants arrivés trop tôt…

Ces hommes de terrain ont comme seul mot d’ordre la religiosité populaire. Ils se sont parfois attirés les foudres du Vatican, qui les considère comme des “hérétiques”, pour avoir notamment baptisé des enfants de mères célibataires et accepté la dévotion des villeros pour des saints et des vierges non-reconnus par l’Église. Ils n’hésitent pas à prendre certaines libertés par rapport au dogme catholique et aux concepts de l’Eglise, parfois complètement déconnectée de la réalité sociale, même s’ils se défendent d’appartenir à quelconque mouvement de gauche ou du péronisme.

« Ici (dans les villas), il n’y a pas de droite ni de gauche : tout ce qui importe, c’est d’avoir de l’eau, de l’électricité et de vivre mieux », insiste ainsi le Père Gustavo Carrara.

Jorge Bergoglio lui-même a toujours été un fervent défenseur de la Théologie du Peuple, refusant de condamner leur vision de la foi et s’appuyant sur les croyances populaires de cette population déshéritée, qui compte un grand nombre d’immigrants (Boliviens et Paraguayens).

 

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST / ARTICLE COMPLET DISPONIBLE SUR DEMANDE

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Belfast: Where the Walls Speak
Belfast, Northern Ireland
By Fabio Polese
27 Dec 2014

Strolling through the ravines of cities like Belfast, in those hearths of belonging marked by barbed wire, murals celebrating local identity and waking flags speak to a past that continues to exert is presence on the everyday. The divisions between the Republican and Protestant communities are still deep, beyond the attempts at reconciliation have occurred over the years by members of the political institutions in Northern Ireland. Around here the time is marked by commemorations and celebrations, events that enliven the mind and strengthen the concept of identity. On the walls, the windows of fast food restaurants, inside the pubs, one may notice small posters affixed to convene the community to participate in a garrison rather than a procession to commemorate some topical event in local history or the sacrifice of a martyr to his cause. And so even the walls speak. They tell stories and consolidate memory. "The murals are used to transmit our historical legacy," says Jack Duffin, a former member of the Official Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Offical IRA came out of a split in the IRA that lead to the formation of two groups. The more nationalist group took on the name Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA), while the Official IRA was often referred to as the ‘Red IRA’ or the ‘Marxist IRA.’ Duffin now works as a tour guide at the "Coiste Irish Political Tours,” an agency that organizes walking tours for tourists explaining the violence that their land has suffered. "Trading the past means transmitting our historical legacy to all people of the world who visit Belfast,” Duffin says, drinking his cup of black coffee on the way to Culturlann, a structure that works to promote the Gaelic language and culture located in the district nationalist Falls Road, Belfast. "I do not regret my past, I still want an Ireland free and sovereign. An Ireland free from the British and the European Union, but without violence. That's what we try to teach our young people.” "Many young people today are much less interested in the situation,” says Sean McHugh, a forty-year-old nationalist born and raised in Ardoyne, who lived through clashes between Irish Republicans and supporters of the Queen in the nineties. “They are estranged from reality by television, by drugs and alcohol. In the nineties there was a lot more anger and tension than there is today." This tension does not seem to have vanished completely and could re-ignite at any moment. In fact, according to informed sources, there are 200 to 500 volunteers for the New IRA in Belfast alone. The New IRA has been training a new cadre of Irish Republican Army since they were formed in 2012 by merging several active paramilitary cells. Despite this presence, local associations and political parties continue desire a peaceful way forward to achieve a free and sovereign Ireland.

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Papa Francisco
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

Pope Francis waves from a mural adorning the wall of the San Lorenzo football club's stadium.

Le Pape François (Papa Francisco) vous salue, depuis les murs du stade du club de football San Lorenzo, "son" club.

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Syria: Graffiti Activists Challenge I...
Kafranbel, Idlib province, Syria
By Nashwan Marzouk
09 Apr 2014

Storyline:
Activist groups in the city of Kafranbel (Idlib province, Northwest Syria) have organized a graffiti campaign called : "Freedom Without Any Doubt". Activists in the city are trying to fight radical islamist militias that have established a rule of terror in Syrian cities by painting quotes from the Koran that preach a humanist Islam on the city's walls . They also want to gain control of the public space back, which they say had been confiscated by Bashar al Assad's dictatorship as well as by religious militias such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

ISIS has retreated from Kafranbel after a fight against moderate Islamist battalions, three months ago. Since then, activists can work freely.
We follow Hassan Al Ahmed and his fellow activists as they go on a tagging spree at night. We also follow Amer Mattar as he hangs posters around the town. Mattar's younger brother has been fighting with ISIS for several months but this doesn't keep the activist from fighting them with his posters.

Interviews:

Name: Hassan AL AHMED – ACTIVIST for 3ISH
Bite 1: "No religion is to be against one's will" is designed especially for the extremist islamists who say that Sunnis are the strongest. That they want to kill the Alawites and kick out the Christians. We tell them that Syrians are one people."
Bite 2: "There has been a militarization of the conflict but we are against that. We have kept faith in our principles, which are to obtain our freedom and our honor by peaceful protests. We don't want any weapons. "
Bite 3: "The Islamists came in town, they wanted to fight Jihad (holy war). We had to go underground in order to keep our activities going. We would go tagging and painting walls by night and they would answer back by spraying our tags with religious quotes, because all they wanted was verses from the Koran. But we kept on, so they fought us. They arrested my brother and put him in jail. They arrested many civil activists."
Bite 4 : "In darkness: The fly represents us: the youth who keep holding the wall. The fly on the wall keeps observing and buzzing."
Bite 5: "It's a campaign against military. We want to say that the military is wrong."

Name: Amer MATTAR – Profession: Activist for AL SHARE3
Bite 1 (night): "This is an opportunity to gain back the public space that was stolen from us by militia, and that was formerly occupied by the regime with the pictures of Bashar and Hafez Al Assad and that is taken now by Koranic verses. "
Bite 2: (day): "We are trying to spread our ideas and to confront religious extremism by quotes from the Holy Koran such as "Freedom without a doubt", "No religion is to be against one's will", or "How dare you take people as slaves, after they were born free", a quote from Caliph Omar Ben Khattab. "
Bite 3: "Anyone living on Syrian ground takes a risk as the regime can target any place. People are even afraid to have their houses tagged, fearing the regime could target them for that. My personal security situation is not different from the security situation the town is facing."

Shot List: (Description of various shots in the video)

Various shots of: Syrian activists tagging on a wall in Kafranbel by night.
Shot of tag on wall: "Freedom without a doubt"
Shot of tag on wall: "No religion is to be against one's will"
Various shots of: Hassan Al Ahmed preparing and projecting "the fly" pattern.
Various shots of: Kafranbel by day B-roll: destructions and downtown
Various shots of: Hassan Al Ahmed and Amer Mattar putting posters on the walls of Kafranbel by day.
Shots of poster on wall: "Freedom without a doubt"
Shot of poster on wall: "No religion is to be against one's will"
Final shot of bikes leaving with poster on the pole: "How dare you take men as slaves after they were born free?"

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Modern Hieroglyphics of Egypt
Cairo, Egypt
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

The graffiti and street art in Cairo are an ever-changing landscape and canvases. This art has been able to publicly show the collective unease and disenfranchisement of a younger generation of Egyptians fed-up with both the previous Morsi, and current military-appointed government.

Simple graffiti, i.e. just text saying "Sisi is a killer," "down with the Muslim Brotherhood," etc. is super common in Egypt, and can be found everywhere. However, groups with more artistic aspirations were able to flourish in the period following 2011, creating legitimate works of art and murals in major parts of the city reflecting the fears and frustrations of the Arab Spring. Political, but not necessarily politically aligned with one group, the work was commonly just as critical of Mubarak and the military as it was of the Muslim Brotherhood government.

The Mona Lisa Brigade we see in the photo essay started in 2010 and 2011 at the onset of the anti-Mubarak protests. It has a core group of four permanent members. That number sometimes fluctuates as some members have immigrated to the United States, and others have had to go serve their military time. They originally started out as one of many political graffiti crews in and around Tahrir square, painting images that were anti-military, and anti-Mubarak, but in the last year they’ve decided to choose less political themes out of fear of persecution : they shifted their focus and are doing urban beautification, like painting the faces of neighborhood children on the walls of Ard El-Lewa neighborhood, a low income area of greater Cairo.

But since summer 2013, Egypt's new military rulers have sought to rollback many of the revolution's accomplishments. A new legislation that bans and prosecutes the art form was introduced in November 2013 to outlaw politically-oriented graffiti. Regime intimidation hasn't been solely responsible for the waning of a once vibrant artistic community. Rather, the stark divides in the country between different groups of supporters for the military and Islamists have left little room for artistic commentary. As one artist put it, "criticizing the army puts you in the same camp as the Muslim Brotherhood and criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood puts you the same camp as the army."

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Streets of Cairo 16
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street Art from the Women on Walls graffiti collective near Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo.
Women on Walls, which often just goes by WOW, it is a female street art collective organized by Mia Grondahl, author of "Revolution Graffiti: Street Art of the New Egypt and Tahrir Square: The Heart of the Egyptian Revolution." The group was founded in December 2012. WOW brings locals artists together to create graffiti that focuses on women's issues in Egypt. They recently held their second workshop, which was led by Swedish graffiti artist Carolina Falkholt. WOW seeks to empower women and focus the public's attention on women's issues.

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Streets of Cairo 5
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street Art from the Women on Walls graffiti collective near Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 9
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art near Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 8
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art on the former American University in Cairo library in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 10
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art with a negative depiction of journalist and author Mia Gröndahl. Gröndahl has published multiple works about Cairo’s graffiti scene, but has recently come under fire for what they perceive as exploitation.

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Streets of Cairo 13
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art on the former American University in Cairo library in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 12
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art on the former American University in Cairo library in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians

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Streets of Cairo 11
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art and graffiti critical of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian military in downtown Cairo near Tahrir Square. Cairo’s street art is constantly evolving, and different artists and taggers will frequently deface, or in some cases add to or enhance the work of others.

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Streets of Cairo 4
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Close-up of street art critical of the Egyptian military near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 2
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 7
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art critical of the Egyptian military near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 14
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 6
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
29 Mar 2014

Street art critical of the Egyptian military near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The last three years of political and civil turmoil in Egypt have resulted in a surge of street art and graffiti from a mostly young, politically disenfranchised group of Egyptians.

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Streets of Cairo 1
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
21 Mar 2014

Children in Cairo’s Ard El-Lewa neighborhood play against the backdrop of portraits painted by the Mona Lisa Brigade graffiti collective. The brigade has shied away from political graffiti in recent months for fear of reprisal.

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Streets of Cairo 3
Egypt, Cairo
By Mat Wolf
21 Mar 2014

Portraits of children painted by the Mona Lisa Brigade in Cairo’s Ard El-Lewa neighborhood. The brigade has shied away from political graffiti in recent months for fear of reprisal.

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Streets of Cairo 15
By Mat Wolf
21 Mar 2014

Mohamed Ismael (left) and Mustafa Ali Saad aka “Boogie” (right) of the Mona Lisa Brigade stand in front of their group’s logo at their workshop in Cairo’s Ard El-Lewa neighborhood.

Mohamed Ismail and Boogie are both art students. The brigade currently has a studio in the low income Ard El-Lewa neighborhood. Since they’ve turned away from political artwork, they’ve been working on a beautification project in Ard El-Lewa, working with parents and children to paint the images of the children on neighborhood walls.

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Occupy Maidan 5
Kiev, Ukraine
By Daniel Van Moll
04 Feb 2014

A man spraying graffiti to parts of the barricades dividing protesters and riot police on Hrushevskoho Street close to the occupied Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kiev, Ukraine on February 4th, 2014.

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Graffiti in Beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
28 Jan 2014

The Lebanese graffiti scene in capital Beirut, which has been steadily growing in size and quality. It features many interviews of the best local graffiti artists detailing their inspiration and how they believe they are changing mindsets in the country with their art. These artists are determined to create art that is non-religious and apolitical in direct contrast with the ever-increasing sectarian divides in the country, which have been at the root of much of the instability in Lebanon.

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Graffiti in Beirut 5
lebanon beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
19 Jan 2014

An english artists paints in the streets of Beirut, january 2014

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Graffiti in Beirut 4
lebanon beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
05 Jan 2014

Graffiti from the famous lebanese painter "Phat2", Beirut 01/14

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Graffiti in Beirut 7
lebanon beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
29 Dec 2013

A graffiti in Sin el Fil, Beirut. From january 2014

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Graffiti in Beirut 3
lebanon beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
22 Dec 2013

Two artists during the "Christmas graffiti Jam" in Beirut, 12/13

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Graffiti in Beirut 9
lebanon beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
22 Dec 2013

several graffiti made between december 2013 and january 2014

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Graffiti in Beirut 8
lebanon beirut
By Pierre de RougŽ
07 Dec 2013

A graffiti artist painting in a bar in Downtown Beirut

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The 13th Istanbul Biennial, “Mom, am ...
Istanbul, Turkey
By Claudia Wiens
12 Sep 2013

Istanbul, Turkey . 12th Sep, 2013. The 13th Istanbul Biennial, “Mom, am I barbarian?”, curated by Fulya Erdemci, runs from 14 September untill 20 October. Admission to the biennial exhibitions is free, overlapping with the biennial’s vision to create a public space and be accessible to everyone. Diego Bianchi's art work, shown in SALT Gallery, emerged during the last decade as a magnifying and distorting lens of urban life that focused on the formal and mostly chaotic traces of consumerism. Bianchi's project for the 13th Istanbul Biennial is an installation inspired by any given city's brash.

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Mural
Cairo, Egypt
By Daniel Van Moll
26 Aug 2013

Political murals surrounding Tahir Square in Cairo, Egypt.

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Mitrovica (15 of 25)
Mitrovica
By Michael Biach
19 Mar 2013

Anti-EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) graffiti in the ethnic- Albanian south of Mitrovica.

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Mitrovica (21 of 25)
Mitrovica, Kosovo
By Michael Biach
19 Mar 2013

Anti-Serbia graffiti on a wall next to the Ibar river (this image: ethnic-Serbian north).

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"Martyr" Graffiti
Bahrain
By AlFardan
14 Mar 2013

"Martyr" graffiti in Bahrain depicts victims of the opposition, while standing in the center a protester holds stones.

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A new kind of Graffiti for Kenyan Ele...
Nairobi, Kenya
By fahruq
05 Mar 2013

Road 'Peace' graffiti in Kibera - one of Kenya's largest Slums - on election day 2013. Kibera where this shot was taken was the site of much of the violence after the 2007 elections.

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A new kind of Graffiti for Kenyan Ele...
Nairobi, Kenya
By fahruq
04 Mar 2013

Road 'Peace' graffiti in Kibera - one of Kenya's largest Slums - on election day 2013. Kibera where this shot was taken was the site of much of the violence after the 2007 elections.