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Courtesy of Peter Hapak for Time Magazine

Courtesy of Peter Hapak for Time Magazine

thInk differently occupy Everything Do Not ConfORM REBEL AGAINST THE REGIME



Evil is more elegant 8 that is so Kim Jong-il 12 you can’t wear that 14 has rap lost its political edgE? 30 an interview with rapper khaled M 34 art, activism & tony blair 38 where the streets have new names 42 the art of a protest 48 ai weiwei - never sorrY 52 Hit Me One More TimE 54 syrian revolution for dummies 56 posters 57

Editor IN CHief & Design Direction Najla Abuesba SUB EDITOR Rachel Gia Ha Text EDITOR Bouthainh El-Sheikh CONTRIBUTORS David Hellqvist, Tazmyne Carr from BRAP, Tzortis Rallis Special thanks to Aisha Sallabi, Salem Abuesba, Alison Klayman, Joey Nguyen, Rachel Gia Ha, Khaled M, Cat Picton Phillipps and Peter Kennard, Rob De Niet, James Anderson

COVER IMAGE Image by Tzortis Rallis for the Occupied Times. OCCUPY EVERYTHING

The Protester Issue One






Enquiries The Protester Magazine, 2A Pickhurst Park, Bromley, Kent, BR2 0UF

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publishers. © 2012 THE PROTESTER Magazine/ArabSpring Publising. The views expressed in THE PROTESTER are those of the respective contributors and are not necassarily shared by the publisher or THE PROTESTER Magazine, these parties cannot be held responsible for them.

Courtesy of Peter Hapak for Time Magazine

Published by ArabSpring Publishing Printed in the UK

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Narcissus was lured to a pond by the Greek god nemesis, where he fell in love with his own reflection and died in permanent adoration of himself. This obsession of self infatuation and self love is signified by unrelenting tendencies towards manipulation, seduction, power and control.

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Evil is more elegant

With great evilness, comes great style. We take a look at some of the world’s infamous dapper dictators with the help of Dazed Digital editor and founder of the fashion in politics blog, David Hellqvist.


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‘Idi Amin ain’t got nothin’ on me’ Muammer Gaddafi

With the film The Dictator coming out this summer, it is only fair to look at the past fallen dictators and their luxurious, impeccable style. Out of respect of course. Starting with the man that the film is inspired by. No dictator does it quite like recently deceased, Muammer Gaddafi. With colourful gowns, traditional robes and sweet shades, Gaddafi was a mainstay of world leader fashion for over half a century. At a G8 summit one year, while other political leaders wore their classic black/grey suit, Gaddafi channelled Saturday Night Fever in a white suit under the traditional Arabic bisht. At times he would wear a white Dr. Evil jacket, other times he sported Cuban heels with an outlandish chemise, printed with pictures of - what we can only assume - African heroes. When the English writer Jeffrey Bernard asked the painter Francis Bacon who in the world he would most like to bed, he replied, “I’d like to fuck the pants off Colonel Gaddafi.” One of the last things Gaddafi said to the media was, ‘All my people with me, they love me all.’ Just a little delusional. David Hellqvist, Editor of Dazed Digital and founder of the Fashion in Politics blog describes Gaddafi as ‘a loud man with a loud wardrobe. Gaddafi perfected his loud colour and mismatched print aesthetic. He wore outfits that matched his self-admiration. Many dictators suffer from boosted egos and that comes through in clothes, shoes, haircuts, households and other quirky characteristics. This can also seen in, for example, Gaddafi’s female-only elite bodyguard and his habit of bringing a tent to live in wherever he went.’ Some fascist fashionistas aren’t appreciated in their time. Idi Amin – Gaddafi’s best friend - was described by Time magazine as a ‘killer and clown, big-hearted buffoon and strutting martinet.’ Calling an ethnic cleansing and alleged cannibal, ‘big-hearted’ is wrong on so many levels but claiming the smooth dresser was a ‘clown’ or ‘strutting martinet’ is simply libel. His impeccable military suits were drenched in gold military medals that bordered

“His impeccable military suits were drenched in gold military m edal s that bordered on wearable art.” 9

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on wearable art. He teamed the suit with leopard print or blood red draped material. Narcissism reached new levels with Idi when his full self-bestowed title ultimately became: ‘His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.’ Hellqvist explains, ‘Idi Amin took up a strong extreme right wing sartorial tradition in that he insisted on wearing a uniform with an excessive amount of medals on display. This could also be seen on Augusto Pinochet and Nazi generals like Hermann Göring.’ Another dictator that showed dictatorial style was Fidel Castro. Whether he was dodging one of the million or so assassination attempts on his life, or threatening the US Eastern Seaboard, Castro’s image was infamous for the tough masculine revolutionary look. In an interview with Naomi Campbell, Hugo Chavez identified Castro as his “fashion icon”. Commissioned by British GQ, Campbell interviewed high profile political figures like Chavez who admitting Cuban leader Castro was the bestdressed world leader: “his uniform is impeccable. His boots are polished. His beard is elegant.” Hellqvist reveals, ‘Fidel Castro, goes for the left wing style of

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Fidel Castro with Actors Maureen O’Hara and Alec Guiness

“His uniform is impeccable. His boots are polished. His beard is elegant.”

Saddam Hussien

“I’d like to fuck the pants off C o l o n e l G a d d afi . ”

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clothing. Minimal, simple and clean - his khaki uniform is without medals and in a neutral green colour. Like Mao in China, it’s about creating a uniform that ‘the people’ can identity with, one that shows he’s one of the masses.’ One dictator that America loves to hate is Saddam Hussein. His personal style included great uniforms, rugged casual wear and a moustache that puts Tom Selleck’s one to shame. The dictator favoured bold silk ties with ornate patterns tucked behind the occasional vest and bespoke Turkish-wool suits with pristine French cuffs. While he had George Bush shaking in his boots, he was quite the dandy man. However, no one is dandier than the late Kim Jong-il. Kim had a distinct flare for style. He favoured a particular shade of murky beige/grey, which in later years blended well with his fading hair. He sported trim zipup jackets and anoraks, although he sometimes would slip into a jumpsuit. He occasionally got creative with headgear, including a fur hat or two but when it comes to fashion, the leader will be remembered for his eyewear. Dark and oblong or silvery and square, Kim always had on a funky pair of specs. In 1994, the egotistic dictator was granted the first of more than 200

‘What YOU LOOKIN’ AT PUNK?’ Kim Jong-Il

official titles. These included ‘Guiding Star of the 21st Century’, ‘Glorious General, Who Descended from Heaven’, ‘Amazing Politician’, ‘EverVictorious, Iron-Willed Commander’ and ‘Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love’. Hellqvist recounts, ‘Kim Jong-i, like Gaddafi, let his ego take over. When you are an un-elected leader you can wear what you want without having to please an electorate. No one knew that better than the North Korean leader. His glasses, the hairdo and platform shoes all made for an unusual look for a world leader. Then there’s, again like Gaddafi, all the smaller extra bits to his personality. Rumour had it, Jong-il loved films and owned somewhere between 10,000 - 20,000 of Hollywood films, plus a massive cognac cellar.’ These great men prove that evil is more elegant. Being evil looks good. So while we remember them, we remember them simply for their luxurious style and their cringe worthy self-love, distracting ourselves from the grim reality that they are despicable murderers. But never mind, look at their fancy clothes, their bloodstained fancy clothes.

All catwalking images courtesy of

That is so

Bottega Venata SS12

‘His glasses, the hairdo and platform shoes all made for an unusual look for a world leader.’ 12

This years biggest spring/summer trend is the Kim Jong-il look. The late North Korean leader wasn’t only notorious for being one of the great dictators (R.I.P) but also for his impeccable style. His notorious military suit - a zip front, hip length, long sleeve jacket and straight leg trouser - has inspired designers from the likes of Bottega Venata, Givenchy, Dries Van Noten, Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs. Bottega Venata’s buttoned-up-tight mandarin-collared jackets and matching trousers in light khaki and beige, had a military mien. Yves Saint Laurent added a drawstring waist to the military beige jacket whereas Givenchy had buttoned front bomber jackets in a deep green hue mimicking Kim’s wardrobe. For those formal meeting-world-leaders events, add sunglasses, platform shoes and a hundred kilos and you’d have yourself a best-dressed dictator.

Kim Jong-il...

Givenchy SS12

Dries Van Noten SS12

‘Now you see, the changing of the worrd is inevitabre! ’ Yves Saint Laurent SS12



can’t wear 14

Should politicians dictate what you can and can’t wear? Najla Abuesba investigates. The burqa and the hoodie are two of the most notorious items of clothing that have been banned and have caused the most controversy. Their ability to hide the identity of the person wearing it alarms the public. However, do politicians have the right to ban clothing? The first known ban of an item of clothing is the bikini. Invented by French engineer Louis Reard in 1946, it was named after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific – the site of an atomic bomb test. Reard hoped it would be as explosive as the atomic bomb and it was. When it first appeared on French beaches in 1947, it shocked the public. Spain, Portugal and Italy banned the bikini and it remained prohibited in many US states. The Miss World contest in UK, the Hays production code in the US, and most Catholic countries banned the costume. The next known moment of fashion causing controversy dates back to the punk era. Vivienne Westwood and the late Malcolm McLaren’s SEX shop on King’s Road was an attempt to bring extremely underground fetish wear to the mainstream fashion world. The shop was famous for its sexually crude and evocative garments: ‘bondage’ trousers and T-shirts emblazoned with provocative phrases like ‘Cambridge Rapist’ and ‘Paedophilia’ which caused dispute and outrage in a conventional British society. Many items of stock were confiscated. One particular T-shirt – ‘Two Naked Cowboys’ - had their friend, the artist Alan Jones, arrested. The t-shirt showed an obscene image of 2 nude homosexual cowboys from a 1969 illustration by the US artist Jim French, which made headlines in all the newspapers. Alan Jones tells insomniacmania. com, ‘the police thought it was far too provocative when I wore it for the first time. I was arrested for indecency, Malcolm promised me support and the best lawyer – which never happened. I got fined, made headlines in all the newspapers and it’s one of the many stories I’m now asked about constantly regarding that amazing time.’ Katherine Hamnett’s political slogan t-shirts is another example of fashion and politics coming together. In the 1980s, her oversized protest t-shirts with large block letter slogans featured ‘CHOOSE LIFE’, ‘WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW’ and ‘SAVE THE WORLD’ slogans. In 1984, Hamnett met with then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “58% DON’T WANT PERSHING” - referring to the public opposition in the United Kingdom against the basing of Pershing missiles. At a London fashion show in 2003, Hamnett’s catwalk models wore shirts with “NO WAR, BLAIR OUT”, a protest to the looming invasion of Iraq. These t-shirts were never banned however they did cause controversy and resulted in newspaper coverage and front pages worldwide. More recently, Topman t-shirts were banned from being sold in stores. A grey crew-neck T-shirt features the slogan: ‘Nice new girlfriend - what breed is she?’ The other, a red crew-neck, says: ‘I’m so sorry but...’ then has a tick-box list of ‘excuses’

Iman wears jewlerry by CHANEL; shirt by PRADA; jacket by VIVIENNE WESTWOOD GOLD LABEL; skirt by ALEXANDER MCQUEEN; tights by CAPEZIO; shoes model’s own.

for doing something wrong. The excuses, in order, are: You provoked me; I was drunk; I was having a bad day; I hate you; I didn’t mean it; I couldn’t help it. Despite being marketed as ‘tongue-incheek’, the second T-shirt has been construed by many as making reference to a range of emotive crimes, including domestic violence or rape. Some may argue, an offensive or crude item of clothing is enough reason for it to be banned however; does the same rule apply for religious clothing? France introduced a law against covering your face in public in April 2011. Muslim women in full-face veils, or niqab, are now banned from any public activity including walking down the street, taking a bus, going to the shops or collecting their children from school. French politicians in favour of the ban said they were acting to protect the “gender equality” and “dignity” of women. But five months after the law was introduced, the result is a mixture of confusion and apathy. There have been instances of people taking the law into their own hands and trying to rip off full-face veils, of bus drivers refusing to carry women in niqab or of shop-owners trying to bar entry. One politician who backed the law said that women still going out in niqab were simply being “provocative”. Then French President Sarkozy’s reason for the ban of the burqa is that it goes against France’s values. “We cannot have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity. That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity,” he declared in a public statement following the ban in April 2011. He describes women wearing the burqa as ‘prisoners’, ironically; they are now under house arrest. Attia Bousba, an artist living in Paris reveals, ‘this law is about French discomfort with ‘strangeness’ – people who don’t comply with the expected standards of western bourgeois behaviour. Muslims in France are only acceptable if they are invisible.’ Not only is the ban happening in France, but now in Tunisia, students who wear the Niqab are not allowed to attend classes at university. Clashes have reached the point where teachers have decided to do a one-day strike. Some students (both male

British moviegoers no longer get scared of zombies or ghosts, but rather a young person in sportswear and a hoodie.

and female) staged a protest. Nicknamed the ‘sit-inneurs’, they are refusing to go to classes or take part in any student activities until the current law, which bans the use of niqab. Fatima Hazzi, a student at the Manouba faculty is on hunger strike until the law changes. In the UK, many people have questioned whether the ban should be enforced in Britain. British tabloid newspaper, the Daily Express announced that 98% of its readers who had taken part in a phone-in poll on the subject supported a ban on the veil. Ipsos MORI (market research company) conducted a more thorough opinion poll and found that 61% agreed with the statement: ‘By wearing a veil Muslim women are segregating themselves’. However, 77% agreed, ‘Muslim women should have the right to wear the veil’. In July 2010, Yougov conducted a poll of 2,205 adults in Britain; it found that 67% supported a complete ban on wearing the Burka across Britain. I t can be argued that the burqa ban in France is similar to banning the hoodie in shopping centres in the UK. In 2008 the Daily Express set up a campaign for police officers to order hoods to be removed in public places. The paper explains that shoplifters and killers will think twice about committing their crime without the invisibility the hoodie provides. However, are there not other items of clothing that can be used to hide the identity? Matt Drake, a journalist tells the Daily Express, ‘the risk of being caught for even an instant on CCTV footage would dissuade scores of criminals and reduce soaring crime rates.’ The newspaper demanded local authorities, public transport providers and shopping centres to band the hood. One shopping centre reinforced the no hood rule. Hooded tops, baseball caps and swearing have been outlawed at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour. Charlotte King, a law student from London agrees, ‘this is similar measure to banning helmets from banks. It makes sense and is totally sensible. It’s hard to pick out a face on CCTV when they

61% agreed with the statement: “By wearing a veil Muslim women are segregating themselves”.

are covered with a hoodie and a cap.’ However, could this just reinforce the stereotype that all young people who wear the hoodie are going to commit a criminal offence? Robert Singers, a personal trainer asserts, ‘I’m a 25 year old personal trainer and I wear hooded tops regularly but I’ve never been involved in anti-social behaviour. Does this mean that I cannot go to do some shopping at this centre as I may be wearing a hooded top if it’s a bit chilly? Are they trying to imply that everyone who wears a hooded top is a thug?’ Most recently, this stereotype that the hoodie is dangerous has come to light and has caused controversy in America. Trayvon Martin - a 17-year-old African-American – was killed by neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerman. Martin was armed only with a packet of Skittles when Zimmerman shot him, claiming the boy looked ‘suspicious’ because he was wearing a hoodie. On March 21st 2012, protesters organised a ‘Million hoodie march’ and converged at Manhattan’s Union Square wearing hooded tops to symbolically highlight the profiling used against youths in hoodies. They called for ‘Justice for Trayvon Martin’ as well

panic l a mor d by ‘The te a cre being dia around e ’ is h the m yout d e al d ent ‘hoo m a detri ving a h the young to up effect ing w gro people ay.’ d to ain Brit in

as chanted, ‘No Justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police!’ Tazmyne Car, a youth and community worker from BRAP (youth equalities organisation) expresses, ‘banning of hoodies can have a damaging effect to a young person’s identity. They should be allowed the human right to express themselves through their clothing whether that is through wearing all black, a particular pair of trainers or the wearing of a hoodie. Why should it be one rule for adults and another for young people? The moral panic being created by the media around ‘hooded youth’ is having a detrimental effect to the young people growing up in Britain today. A whole generation is being demonised and are being labelled a threat to society.’ It is indeed a moral panic that is being created by the media and film. Unlike previous moral panics such as the Teddy Boys, the Mods and the Punks, hoodies are not defined by their music or fashion but are defined by their class and social standing. This moral panic has been implanted into British cinema. It seems that British moviegoers no longer get scared of zombies or ghosts, but rather a young person in sportswear and a hoodie. Films like Eden Lake, The Disappeared, Summer Scars, Outlaw, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, Heartless and more recently, Harry Brown have caught on this film trend of hoodie thrillers that focus on ‘Broken Britain’ and the fear of hoodies. In Harry Brown the hoodies hunt in packs, move in unison and possess a supernatural horror inviting comparisons with other cinema villains – vampires and zombies. Filmmakers and journalists paint a picture of a frightening hooded young person and undoubtedly society respond to this stereotype. Equally, it could be argued that France is afraid of the burqa and that is their reason for the ban. The hidden identity of a person naturally causes society to question their motives. However, if politicians respond to this and inevitably ban an item of clothing - like in France – one may ask the question, what’s next?

Photographer: Najla Abuesba Models: Joey Nguyen and Rachel Gia Ha Clothes: Stylist’s own MAKE UP: Ayten Ali 18




What’s 50 grand to a m u h A f * c k a like me Can you p l e a s e remind me? 29

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HAS RAP lost its political edge? ‘What’s 50 grand to a muhAf*cka like me, can you please remind me?’ ‘They ain’t see me cause I pulled up in my other Benz. Last week I was in my other other Benz,’ Raps like these by Kanye West and Jay Z glorify glut and profligacy of the modern day hip-hop lifestyle. They are all you can hear on their new album Watch the Throne. Is this what rappers have succumbed to? Has rap lost its political edge? Those who found private jets, yachts and expensive cars sickening to the stomach included conscious rapper Yasiin Bey (the artist formerly knows as Mos Def). In a response to Ni**as in Paris, he posted a video on YouTube called Ni**as in Poorest where he raps, ‘so what’s 50 grand to a young ni**a like me? More than my annual salary.’ Where Jay and Ye gave us a three-minute look into their outlandishly extravagant lives, Yasiin reminded us how the other 99.9 percent of the planet is living. Yasiin Bey follows the footsteps of rap that came before Jay Z and Kanye West. Hip hop music that was most powerful because it truly resonated with the listener. It talked about the daily struggles of young African Americans living with poverty and police brutality. The very first overtly political song was born in the 1980s and was called ‘The Message’. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s song featured the lyrics, ‘Broken glass everywhere/ People pissing on the stairs, you know they

just don’t care/ I can’t take the smell; I can’t take the noise/ Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice.’ The song accurately and poignantly articulated the stresses of urban life. founder, Chuck ‘Jigsaw’ Creekmur tells, “I think in many ways Reagan, the conditions in America at that time, Reaganomics, were a part of the reason why hip-hop was founded in the first place because it did come out of these deplorable conditions in the South Bronx where people were disenfranchised, didn’t have jobs, didn’t have the ability to provide for themselves…. It provided kids with something to do when they otherwise would be fighting. It provided them with a voice when there was no voice and it really spawned this movement out of just pure negativity, and I’d like to give Reagan a little credit to that.” Inspired by Grandmaster Flash and perhaps the most wellknown and influential political rap group of the 1980s was Public Enemy. With their hard-hitting, in-your-face lyrics, powerful beats and the forceful voice of the group’s front man Chuck D, Public Enemy was the soundtrack for a conscious and vigilant hip-hop generation. Their album, Fear of a Black Planet addressed the fear some white people have of black and white relationships. It included the

singles ‘911 is a Joke’ which criticised emergency response units for taking longer to arrive when called from black communities than white communities. ‘Fight the Power’ was also featured on that album, which voices disgust for considering Elvis Presley and John Wayne standard American icons and is regarded as the ultimate anthem for empowering young people. Public Enemy is at the forefront but did not stand alone in the political hip-hop genre. KRS-One, Poor Righteous Teachers, Ice Cube and N.W.A were all political. N.W.A’s (Ni**as with Attitude) album Straight Outta Compton (1988) featured the infamous song ‘Fuck tha Police’, which protested the horrors of police brutality and racial profiling. The song brought them into conflict with various law enforcement agencies but painted a picture of what it was like being an African American in the late 80s early 90s. Similarly, a song that created a firestorm of controversy was ‘Cop Killer’ by Ice-T and his group Body Count. The song, released in 1992, made references to then-LAPD police chief Daryl Gates and Rodney King, a black motorist who was beaten by LAPD officers. Shortly after the song was released, the officers who beat King were acquitted, which led to riots erupting in South Central Los Angeles. “Cop Killer” received criticism from thenPresident George H.W. Bush and Vice-president Dan Quayle. The LA rapper was asked to pull the record after intense battles with censorship. Although the hip-hop scene often appears male-dominated, women created a legacy in political hip-hop. Queen Latifah’s ‘U.N.I.T.Y’

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‘Fuck tha police Coming straight from the underground Young nigga got it bad cuz I’m brown And not the other colour so police think They have the authority to kill a minority Fucking with me cuz I’m a teenager With a little bit of gold and a pager Searching my car, looking for the product T h i n k i n g every nigga is selling narcotics.’

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empowered women and spoke out against the disrespect of women in society. It addressed issues of street harassment; domestic violence and slurs against women in hip hop culture. Nowadays, rappers are more interested on jumping on the bandwagon of politics rather than rapping about it. In 2004, hip-hop attempted to make important political statements as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs organised a national “Vote or Die” campaign. In the end, some argued that it did not influence that year’s election for young African American people. Other times, hip-hop defined a moment in history and said what the average person in America was thinking. Following Hurricane Katrina, Kanye West declared on national television that then-president ‘George Bush doesn’t like black people.’ The election for president Obama became a playground for rappers such as Jay Z, Ludacris and Will.I.Am to jump on the political train. Obama invited Jay Z to the White House and imitated his trademark move of dusting off his shoulder in front of an audience who probably was not familiar with Jay Z music. More recently, Kanye West made an appearance at the Occupy Wall Street protests and Jay Z produced ‘Occupy All Street’ t-shirt for a short period of time before criticism came that he was looking to cash-in on the movement. Although rappers in America are seen participating in politics, it is difficult to identify their motives. These moments during protests and presidential elections where rappers participated certainly doesn’t mean that rap music has regained its political edge. Still, rappers write lyrics about Rolexes, Aston Martins and Benzes in order to sell records. However, there seems to be a new breed of political hip-hop

MCs from the UK. Lowkey is arguably the biggest political rap artist in UK right now with songs like Obama Nation and Terrorist gaining millions of views on YouTube. Unfortunately, his music doesn’t make it to radio stations. Other rappers include Logic, Akala, Mic Righteous and more recently, Plan B. The singer/ rapper has swapped his love songs for protest hip-hop. He has come to media attention recently with his new song ‘Ill Manors’. Dubbed by The Guardian as ‘the greatest British protest song in years’, the song deals with last summer’s riots in London and coincides with the summer release of Plan B’s film of the same name. In spite of this, can we say that rap has regained its political edge? No. Is Obama the hip- hop president? No, Chuck D is. However, it seems that the protests and riots that happened in 2011 have inspired some rappers. Maybe it is now time for a conscious era. Maybe rappers can become the voice for society. Maybe people are changing.

‘It provided kids with something to do when they otherwise would be fighting. It provided them with a voice when there was no voice’

LibyaS ’ Very OwN

Libyan rapper, Khaled M had just finished a gig in Manchester and while we started the interview, the room filled with young scarfwearing Libyan girls whispering the lyrics to his infamous rap, ‘Can’t take our freedom.’ The song - in collaboration with London rapper Lowkey - went viral and became the anthem of the Libyan revolution. He sat there wearing a flat cap turned backwards; square rimmed glasses and an Omar Mokhtar (old Libyan hero) t-shirt. His voice has a lovely southern American accent.


How old were you when you started rapping?

Ahh man, I’ve always listened to Hip Hop, I’ve always loved writing. My first actual rap, I wrote when I was in the 6th grade, so I was probably about 11 years old. I still remember it, it’s really bad.

What was it?

(Laughter) It went something like, ‘I can bust a beat, I can move my feet, and when I see the chicks they go tweet tweet tweet.’

What made you start rapping?

Your dad was a Libyan revolutionist. What was it like growing up?

My father was imprisoned in 1973 in Libya and he was tortured everyday. I still remember the scars across his back. He came from a prominent opposition family. He escaped after 5 years. All his family were either killed or thrown in jail. His 2 brothers were killed in 1984 because they were part of a group that infiltrated Bab Al Azizza Gaddafi’s compound as an assassination attempt. So my father left Libya and made it to Tunisia on foot. He was imprisoned in Tunisia then eventually they sent him out to Egypt and he lived years and years while Gaddafi goons and assassins were after him. First 4 years of my life were on the run. I lived in Sudan, Iraq, London and Egypt. I was born in a city called Tucson Arizona but we never lived there, my brother was born in Pittsburgh but we never lived there. We were just always on the run. We relocated to Lexington Kentucky, which became the headquarters for the opposition of Gaddafi – my father was a big part of that.

‘Biggie told me that the Sky is the limit he showed me you could die any minute.’

Man, I always just did it for fun. We used to have battles at lunch and when I turned 18 years old I met the manager for Bone Thugs-NHarmony and they invited me to go on tour with them. Stuff was great. I toured the country at a young age but I realised the music industry wasn’t really for me. I couldn’t live the lifestyle that I wanted to live so I started writing for other people for a number of years. Now in the last few years, independent artists have become more powerful, and I felt comfortable that I could do music the way that I wanted to do it so I pursued it. When you get older and you get into real life, you realise that you don’t want to work a 9-5 you know, so it helps to have a job like this.

So how did he affect your rapping?

He passed away when I was 9 years old and I think

Courtesy of Khaled M

just noticing the principle that he lived by. He used to write poetry as well and I think just the life that he chose, he sacrificed a lot. It wasn’t easy moving to America not speaking English. It was a tough life we were very poor, there’s no money in this business so he really just taught me to live on principles and not worry about the wealth you’ve gained.

What was it like growing up in America and not being able to visit Libya?

It was always a dream of going back to Libya. If you would have asked us when we were young, we never would have thought that it would be 2012 and our first visit to Libya. It was really a bizarre childhood. I didn’t realise until now that I am older but you we had to have fake names and people come in and you find out they’re spies. I didn’t know it was weird because when I was younger, all my friends were in the same situation all my friends also had dads on the run. They wouldn’t start the car because their families were in the car and they were paranoid. But then when I got older and I looked back I was like man, most people didn’t have a childhood like that as a kid. I didn’t know it was normal.

‘There are rappers that I admired while growing up. Once you get older you actually meet these people and your opinions tend to change.’ What was it like visiting Libya for the first time?

Ahh man it was a trip of a lifetime I cant even explain it meeting so many family members for the first time. It’s very interesting to go somewhere for the first time in your life and for it to feel more familiar then anything you’ve ever seen. First time in my life I felt home – really felt home.

And it was funny you know there was a lot of embarrassing incidents. They were filming a TV show – so I had a film crew that came with me on the plane and filmed me while I was in Libya. It was very embarrassing to meet your family for the first time and have these strangers around you. I went to Nalut, where my father is originally from. It’s just a small village in the west. They don’t have Internet you know they’ve never seen all this production. I get to the house and everyone is standing outside so I greet each person one by one. We’re hugging and we’re kissing, it’s beautiful, I finish and we walk inside the house and the director says, ‘ohh that was great. Could you guys do it one more time and close the door behind you this time.’ (Laughter)

We look forward to watching the documentary. Tell me about working with London rapper Lowkey on the song ‘Cant take my freedom’.

You know me and Lowkey had toured a little bit together and we built a close friendship before we did any music together. I remember telling him like listen, this is happening in Libya this is before the media was involved and I said like I’m going to make a song about it and I think you’d be perfect for the song. At first he was like man I don’t know. He had some legal issues. He said he needed to stay clear of everything. When I showed him the song, his face just lit up and he was like ‘I’ve got to be apart of this.’ (Khaled M attempts a British accent) So yeah, he was excited. We were on tour and so we wrote the song in Detroit in the states and then the next day we’re in Miami and we recorded the song in Miami and the rest is history.

What rappers would you like to work with or collaborate with?

Ahh man ermmm. (He pauses to think) You know I feel like everybody as far as rappers goes, everybody that I wanted to work with I’ve worked with you know like Lupe Fiasco (the girls in the room gasp) and Freeway. We’ve been blessed to do shows with everybody like Kanye West. I don’t know man. There are a lot of singers I would love to work with like

‘in the last few years, in d epen d ent artists have become more po w e r f u l , and I felt com f o rtab l e that I could do music the way that I wanted to .’

Lauren Hill. If I could pick anybody from the UK I’d probably pick Adele but as far as rappers, I feel like I can rap and I don’t need another rapper on the track I’d rather work with maybe some singers.

What rappers do you admire?

Ahh, that’s a great question. There are rappers that I admired while growing up. Once you get older you actually meet these people and your opinions tend to change. When I was young the first person I ever listened to was Tupac. I used to listen to Nas and MosDef but you know now it’s just. I guess I like songs. I just like anybody that is sincere in their music. I like anybody that’s true, that’s not willing to sacrifice their principles, that’s not afraid to put themselves out there. I just like people that make music with a message but aren’t preaching in your face.

What was the last protest you participated in?

Ahh man. The last one that I participated in was actually in Egypt and it was outside the Arab League. It was for Yemen and for Syria. So a bunch of Syrians and Yemeni’s and Khaled M, and we had a great time. It was amazing.

Are you a rebel?

Ahh man. (Laughter) I don’t know if I truly understand the word rebel and what it means. This is what I’ve learned through this whole process. There’s a lot of propaganda about Libya. There are people that rebel and they support human rights like people who support Palestine for example. I learned through this whole process who was being a rebel just to be a rebel, and who really

supports human rights you know. Some people were pro Palestine just to be Anti-West but if the West happen to make the right decision, they don’t want to support Palestine. I think I rebel against injustice and against oppressors but I don’t rebel for the sake of rebelling.

‘I’m from the South; I like to joke and have fun.’ What is your favourite lyric from a rap?

Oh wow that’s an amazing question. I had a show in Chicago 3 nights ago and I had the lyrics from Biggie Smalls biggest song called Sky is the limit in my head. The whole song is basically about me travelling a lot not really seeing my friends, embracing life and being confident but knowing it can all be taken away from you. I performed that song in Chicago and there’s a bit where I say, ‘Biggie told me that the Sky is the limit he showed me you could die any minute.’ That same night, I got shot at in Chicago. The bullet missed me but it was really a good reminder. I was really high and happy, it

All Images courtesy of Khaled M

was an amazing show, sold out, TV shows were documenting it and that same night I got shot at and could have easily passed away so I would say that that is my favourite lyric.

Are you working on anything right now?

Yeah, right now we’ve just started the above the clouds tour, my second headlining tour and Manchester was the second city. We’re going to Qatar, and around the States, maybe make our way to Libya eventually and also recording. I still don’t have an album yet, so we’re in the process of recording that.

Do you have a personal political manifesto?

A lot of people want to comment that I’m a political rapper but I don’t really keep up with politics. I don’t vote, I’m not checking the news to see who’s going to be president and who’s not. For me I just want to make a connection with people on a human level regardless of what people’s governments are doing, I just want to connect with people and try to make my impact on a social level. I will never make music that is about clubs and popping the bottles. But I am looking forward to showing my fans another side of my personality. I’m from the South; I like to joke and have fun.

‘Some people were pro Palestine just to be AntiWest but if the West happen to make the right decision, they don’t want to support Palestine.’


All Images courtesy of Kennardphillips

‘We got angry, thought about it all, walked around, started talking and making stuff born out of that anger,’ That is how it started. Cat Picton Phillipps and Peter Kennard formed Kennardphillips and have been working together since 2002 producing thoughtprovoking art in response to the invasion of Iraq. Their art depicts international movements for social and political change. To them it is the visual arm of protest - a placard to be held during a protest. Breaking the art school taboo that digital equipment had to be kept sterile clean, their first series of work started with throwing dust, blood and oil onto a flat-bed scanner for their first series. They wanted to evoke a human energy through their work. Now, they are mostly known for their smart photomontages particularly the infamous image of Tony Blair seen on the cover of the Art & Activism book published last year. With two exhibitions coming up and new projects in the air, it would be injudicious not to interview them. Edinburgh-born Cat Phillips never went to art school. Peter Kennard however went to the Byam Shaw School of Art. His opinion on it has changed. ‘It got scrapped last year into the conglomeration of University of the Arts London. It lost all and is now just a department - part of the disastrous story of arts education in the UK,’ he reveals. Nonetheless, politics was always on the agenda. Cat recounts, ‘I’ve always been interested in politics but I didn’t know that until I saw the Newbury

Art, Activism & Tony Blair protests in the UK and watched the horror of the Balkan conflict in 1995,’ For Peter, ‘it was the Vietnam War protests in 1968’ that triggered his interest. They met ‘on the street’ in 2002 – around the time there were talks about the invasion of Iraq. Cat had participated in demonstrations and protests against the invasion but it was clear no one was listening. They decided to team up and create artwork in response to the Iraq war. That infamous image of Tony Blair taking a picture of him and a huge bomb explosion, with a self-congratulatory smile on his face, was a product of this collaboration. The image was massively publicised and went a long way in the fight against the Iraq war. Naturally, it also received criticism. ‘Criticism is all we encounter,’ Cat reveals. ‘Criticism and occasional joy. The art world hates it, ordinary. People often appreciate it, some people find the work puts voice to what they’re thinking and seeing that voice loud in a gallery or in the street brings some relief and support to the average struggling people,’ Their work has made its way into the ‘street art’ category evidently because some of their work is done on the street and fueled by politics. In 2007, their street art reached the apartheid wall in Bethlehem, Palestine. ‘We were already there courtesy of Santa’s Ghetto - Banksy’s Christmas shop/exhibition. Our new Palestinian friends in Bethlehem introduced us to an ISA printer in Hebron. He got well into the idea of our work and helped us work out the best way to use the massive metal, sliding gates in the apartheid wall.’ Cat describes, ‘the image depicts a seemingly lost soldier in a fog of green night vision apparently wandering forwards following a floating dollar bill that dominates the air ahead of him - we call the work ‘who’s paying for this?’ Undoubtedly, their more recent work has depicted political issues that surround society today. They have created posters for the Occupied Times and the Occupy London protests as well as a photomontage depicting the fall of Gaddafi during the Libyan revolution. They provide also through

An interview with ARTIST DUO KennardPhillips


‘It got scrapped last year into the conglomeration of University of the Arts London. It lost all and is now just a department - part of the disastrous story of arts education in the UK.’

All Images courtesy of Kennardphillips

their website a way to download posters to be used at protests and encourage a donation to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) – a Palestinianled movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Their work is ‘born out of anger’, so what is making them angry right now? The Syrian dictator Bashir Al Assad is their answer. Cat informs, ‘the work we’re making right now correlates with the new revelations brought out from the intercepted emails between Bashir Al Assad and his wife and cohorts. It makes us mentally enraged that whilst citizens all across Syria are under attack, dying and being maimed by Assad’s forces, he and his wife shop luxuries and banal music across the Internet. The shear disparity between their engagement with their ruling and the forced engagement with heavy weapons attack that the citizens of Syria endure is torture to perceive - it enrages us.’ She reveals, ‘we’ll be printing off a line of heads of Bashir Al Assad for our next project.’ Kennardphillips are showing an exhibition called Occupy Everything at the Hales Gallery from 18th April to the 26th May 2012. Also, an exhibition called Iraq - How, Where, For Whom? in collaboration with Iraqi artist Hanaa’ Malallah is showing at the Mosaic Rooms from 19th April until 6th June 2012.

What provokes your work? What inspires you?

Abuse of power, management, oppression in all it’s forms, but more than anything the abuse of human interests by the state, the financial system and the overwhelming machine of buy, sell, promote, merchandise, profit, profit, profit at the cost of everything - to the detriment of human and communal experience

What was the last protest you participated in? TUC November 30th 2011

Which protest has been the most inspiring? Cat: reclaim the streets, Brixton and later central London Peter: CND 1980 - campaign for nuclear disarmament

Are you a rebel?

Would we be here if we weren’t? Yes, yes we always were

What do you rebel against?

Anything that attempts to crush the spirit of humanity, justice and love

Do you have a personal political manifesto? Long live humanity, justice and love

What are you listening to right now?

BBC radio 3 - resonance fm - Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday service - dead weather

Do you tweet? No

‘It makes us mentally enraged that whilst citizens all across Syria are under attack, dying and being maimed by Assad’s forces, he and his wife shop luxuries and banal music’

Where the streets have new names 42

After calling Libyans “rats” in one of Gaddafi’s last speeches, most people started depicting him as a rat. In this graffiti, a huge boot stops Qaddafi with a rat’s body from trying to escape.

References to other Arab countries revolutions are also present among graffiti in Tripoli. In this one, celebrating the important role women played in the revolution, the Libyan flag can be seen intermixed with the Tunisian and Egyptian flag.

With the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, Libya retrieved the post-independence flag it had from 1956 to 1969. Today there is no sign left of the green and white flag while the green, red and black of the previous flag is everywhere.

All Street Art photographed by Karim Mostafa 47


Art Protest of a


The hashtag #OCCUPYWALLSTREET blitzed through twitter and in a matter of seconds, the Occupy movement was trending worldwide. Activists from Tokyo to Las Vegas used their own social media websites to organise protests and demonstrations in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. On October 15th 2011, it hit London. A camp was set up next to St Paul’s Cathedral, to protest against economic inequality, corporate greed and social injustice. In one of these tents, a new, revolutionary newspaper was born. The Occupied Times has gained recognition for it s subversive political design and willingness to print world-renowned economists next to unknown writers living at the camp. With no electricity and shaky Internet, The Occupied Times has no budget and with the staff working 9-5 jobs, it is created in the evenings and weekends. Legendary writers have asked to write for it – Noam Chomsky being one, one of the editors has been arrested and everyone on the team hand folds the paper. As we have a very small budget we receive the paper in separate spreads, then we set up a team of volunteers in order to fold and distribute the

paper. This is a unfamiliar experience within the design industry however it is a unique opportunity to be around people that are interested in this protest, exchange ideas and finally distribute the paper.’ Tzortis Rallis describes. Tzortis Rallis, a political minded, MA graduate from London College of Communication is the brain behind the design. He first got interested within the Occupied Times team when the editor, Steve Maclean, was looking for volunteers to help put together an innovative newspaper that caters to the Occupy movement. ‘I attended the general assemblies since the Occupy London protests started at St. Pauls. The media team were looking for people to help with the newspaper, so me and Lazaros Kakoulidis decided to volunteer to support them with the layout design,’ Rallis explains. Always interested in politics, Rallis attended protests in Athens, Greece before joining the London Occupy movement. He believes, ‘it is a good starting point in order to make your demands heard.’ When asked about the moment that triggered his interest in politics he claims, ‘I became more active within the political movements that emerged as a response to the global financial crisis, during the early part of the 21st Century.’ Rallis got involved with the Occupied Times, because he ‘wanted to stand against the unfair political and economic reality. The main goal of the international Occupy movement is a systemic reform that will put people before corporate greed.’ The design of the newspaper reflects this ideology. It also appeals to people who might not be as politically minded but are interested in art and design, which doesn’t mimic the mainstream media but challenges it.

Coutesy of Tzortis Rallis

Coutesy of Tzortis Rallis

Coutesy of Tzortis Rallis

He claims that, ‘grassroots ideas cannot be visualized with neutral design - that is why we used this kind of visual voice. The principal rule of our design approach is to be as radical as the ideas of the movement and we always want to stand out of the ‘commercial voice’ that exist in the surroundings.’ For that reason, they are using two different typefaces that portray the movement ‘both in their design and ideology. The typeface named ‘PF Din Mono’ has been used widely within the multinational corporation brands and the typeface named ‘Bastard’ is our design critique to the current political and economic model, a modern form of fascism.’ ‘Bastard’ by Jonathan Barnbrook is provocative and ironically reminiscent of the font used by banks and companies during facist times. ‘PF Din Mono’ by Athens studio, Parachute is an accepted typeface used by many mainstream corporations, businesses and banks. These two together depict cleverly the ‘occupying’ metaphor and as Rallis expresses, ‘brands are now using the visual language of protest themselves, with stencils etc, to promote their products – they stole that language – so we are stealing theirs.’ The newspaper has received much praise for its quality of writing. Rallis recounts, ‘we have a diverse audience within the camp and the city and the 2000 copies that we publish every week seem not enough to cover the demand. We believe that the people appreciate the materialistic value of the paper and also that this is produced away from the mainstream publishing structure.’ A personal highlight of his is that, ‘a copy of the first issue was requested by the Museum of London and will be displayed in their Media History section.’ Naturally, the newspaper has also received some criticism from the mainstream media. Iain Hollingshead from The Telegraph wrote, ‘turn to the latest edition of the group’s newspaper, The Occupied Times, and more space is spent congratulating themselves on bringing different people together – and diluting revolutionaries who wanted all corporations defined as “psychopathic” – than on any concrete, practical suggestions for change.’ In response to this, Steve Maclean – the editor of The Occupied Times - has said in an interview with Dazed and Confused, ‘It’s not true that no one’s giving solutions… you just have to read some of the articles we’re printing. There’s no shortage of ideas.’ However challenging making the newspaper is, Rallis explains, ‘I’m part of a great team of volunteers that work full time without any profit to communicate their ideas. I feel that we are slowly changing how people think about the world.’

‘the principal rule of our design approach is to be as radical as the ideas of the movement and we always want to stand out of the ‘commercial voice’ that exist in the surroundings.’ - What inspires you?

A Demonstration (march) and a hand made placard

- What was the last protest you participated in? Occupy London

- Are you a rebel?

I wouldn’t identify myself as a rebel - I am an activist

- What are you listening to right now? Massive Attack – Occupy London Mix

- Are you working on anything right now? Any future projects?

(Now really)I am working on a poster for a grassroots political collective in Athens, Greece

- Do you tweet? Yes @tzrallis

Ai Weiwei

Never Sorry


“I feel like a chess player. My opponent makes a move, and then I make the next one,” Ai Weiwei reveals in his new film, Never Sorry. His opponent: the Chinese authorities. Chinese avant-garde artist and political activist Ai Weiwei is China’s most famous international artist and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention. In a new documentary - Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry - first-time director Alison Klayman discovers the inside story of China’s contemporary artist and the blurred boundaries of art and politics. Ai Weiwei is the son of a revered poet Ai Qing who was denounced during Mao’s reign and sent to a labour camp. In the beginning of 2008, he was a renowned artist with little more than a growing art world reputation. In May, an earthquake killed thousands of children in Sichuan while Beijing was getting ready to host the summer Olympics. With Ai Weiwei working on the Beijing National Stadium - the now famous ‘Bird’s Nest’ - the world’s attention turned to a re-branded China with a happy face. Until Ai Weiwei claimed it all as strange propaganda and refused to attend the opening ceremony. He blamed the collapse of the schools and the deaths of 5,000 students on the government’s bad construction practises. China played dumb and refused to show the world the numbers and names of the children who died as an attempt to cover up the story. Turning to twitter, Ai organised an investigation to recover the names of the dead. As a reaction to this, he made a heartbreaking piece made of children’s backpacks like the one he witnessed at the sites where the schools once stood. With the people’s attention, he became a political activist and folk hero. He also had the government’s attention and subsequently was put under surveillance and suffered beatings from the police. One that landed him in hospital. Never silenced, Ai continued to blog, tweet and make appearances in the media and TV to the point that the Chinese government resulted to destroying his studio. Klayman chronicles this and more capturing his art projects in London (the infamous sunflower seeds at the Tate), Munich and New York as well as his family life and relationship

with his son. In April 2011, he was arrested at Beijing airport. The Chinese officials said they were investigating him for tax evasion but the international media was outraged. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” made its debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance, and was also presented as an official selection in the Berlinale at the Berlin Film Festival. Sundance Selects said the documentary’s summer release was planned to coincide with Ai’s first trip outside China since his detention. K l a y m a n described “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” in a statement as “a window into modern China and one of its most compelling figures”. When we asked her, what will happen now to a political activist in fear of being sent back to prison? “I’m not sure that Ai Weiwei has it figured out yet,” Klayman replied. “But the way he sees it, you always have to find a new way to play the game.”

Coutesy of Apathy4Destruction

Coutesy of Ai Weiwei Never Sorry

“a window iN to mo d e r n China and one of its most compelling fig u r es ”


Hit me one more time

There are some courageous people in the world and we would like to applaud them for their throwing ability. Here is a list of incidents where courageous people have thrown things at polticians:

2001: Bill Clinton:

The former president was pelted by an egg as he exited an antique store in Warsaw, Poland, by a 19-year-old protester. Clinton removed his jacket and continued strolling through the city, and later remarked that it’s “good for young people to be angry about something.”

2001: John Prescott:

A 29-year old man named Craig Evans hurled an egg right into Mr Prescott’s face. Little did Craig know, Mr Prescott was an amateur boxer and immediately punched him in the jaw. Prescott became cool. The incident got him a few more male voters. Don’t mess with Prescott.

2003: Arnold Schwarzenegger:

We don’t know if the reason Arnold didn’t react sooner to having an egg explode on his neck is because he was trying to not to draw attention to it, or because he didn’t feel the egg because he’s made of robot. Regardless, as an added bonus, there is a truly amazing moment near the one-minute mark of this clip where an insane man flips out on a Schwarzenegger heckler. 2004: Tony Blair: After winning tickets to the House of Commons at a charity raffle, two members of campaign group Fathers 4 Justice managed to throw purple-coloured flour condoms at the former PM in the House of Commons. One missile managed to hit Blair in the back.

2008: George W. Bush:

The president was at a press conference in Iraq when an Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, stood up and fired both his shoes straight at his head. He shouted, “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog!” before throwing one of his shoes and then yelled, “This is for the 54

widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq,’ while hurling the other. Little did al-Zeidi — or anyone else at the time — know, Bush has the reflexes of a Jedi. Neither shoe hit him unfortunately. Al-Zaidi was jailed for nine months. According to the BBC, his throw ‘made him a hero in large parts of the Arab world and beyond.’

2009: Sarah Palin:

While signing copies of her memoir at one of the Mall of America’s probably two dozen Barnes & Noble stores, Palin was targeted by two tomatoes tossed from the second-floor balcony. Jeremy Paul Olsen’s flying fruit never even came close to hitting Palin, but did end up connecting with a police officer’s face, a pretty reliable way to get thrown in jail.

2009: Nick Griffin:

BNP leader was trying to give a press conference outside Parliament when a herd of protesters gate crashed the party chanting anti-Nazi slogans. The poor guy spoke for 2 minutes before they hurled eggs at him. Nothing new then.

2009: Richard Mandelson:

The Secretary of State for Business was left drenched in green custard as it was thrown in his face by an anti-Heathrow protester. The custard culprit was Leila Deen, member of the Plane Stupid group campaigning against the building of a third runway at Heathrow airport.

2010: David Cameron:

A 16- year old student wearing a grey hooded jumper hurled an egg at Mr Cameron as he walked out of a room. In a separate incident, the Tory leader was confronted by a person in a giant chicken suit on Tuesday. Mr Cameron joked: “Now I know which came first - the chicken not the egg.”

2010: Barack Obama:

They got Obama too. A book was thrown at Obama at a rally in Philadelphia USA. The literature-lover hooligan said he only wanted Obama to read his book. Luckily, the book whizzed past Obama’s head. Phew!

Top four images from Youtube

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Syrian revolution for Dummies Following the anti-government demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia (Arab Spring), protests in Syria started on 26th January 2011. Syrian people called for political reforms and a re-instatement of civil rights. Protests on 18-19 March were the largest to ever take place in Syria and the Syrian authority reacted with violence against peaceful protesters. Bashar al-Assad is the current President of Syria and by the end of January 2012, it was reported that his army had killed over 5,000 civilians and protesters. While the year-long Syrian uprising continues, inside the palace walls, Bashar and his wife Asma continue to enjoy their lavish lifestyle. Emails obtained from their accounts reveal Mr Assad to spend tens of thousands of dollars on handmade furniture from Chelsea boutiques. Mrs Assad is a keen Internet shopper who spends thousands of dollars on jewellery, chandeliers, expensive curtains and paintings. While the country was rocked by Assad’s crackdown on the opposition, his family were concerned about the possibility of getting a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II or a new fondue set.


Keep calm and

carry on

Shopping Because nothing brings about the most sublime feeling of euphoria quite like shopping while torturing, murdering and massacring your own people

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