Hezbollah Exhibit Celebrates War and 'Martyrs'

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

A new exhibit in Lebanon celebrates Hezbollah's 2006 war against Israel and commemorates fallen military leader Imad Mugniyah. Though gruesome and kitschy, the show has been a huge success.

A blue laser projects a dancing Star of David on smoke wafting out of a destroyed tank. A loudspeaker roars into life, booming out artillery salvos, hammering out rifle shots. Above the noise, you can hear orders barked out in Arabic and fighters on the front speaking through walkie-talkies. For five minutes, the war is back in Lebanon -- at least acoustically. Then, the sounds of combat fade away, only to be replaced by the chitchat of the visitors to the exhibit. "Look, it's the skeleton of an Israeli soldier," a father explains to his 3-year-old son in front of a casket with a glass lid.

The show has been a huge success, drawing masses of eager visitors to downtown Nabatiye. But it's not the first such exhibit Hezbollah has staged for its supporters. Each year, the "Party of God" drags out and parades the trophies it has gathered from its wars with its archenemy, Israel -- including a plastic skeleton outfitted with the frayed Israeli uniform.

But this show is different. It's main purpose is to glorify Imad Mugniyah, the Hezbollah military strategist killed in February. And in their efforts to honor him, the artistically minded among the Shiite militia have really outdone themselves. Indeed, it's a rather rare sight to see the space the size of a football pitch decorated with this much kitschy symbolism.

The performance room is for propaganda films. Its rug is made out of hundreds of thousands of plastic flowers -- the artificial scent of flowers is meant to provide a foretaste of the "paradise" martyrs can expect as a reward for their heroic deeds. It's a leitmotif that visitors will experience throughout the exhibit beginning at the entrance, where they come under an enormous green visored cap, a larger-than-life copy of the cap that Mugniyah used to wear. "Visitors go all the way under and past it, as if they were going through his head," raves Imad Awada, the head of the exhibition. "It shows you that everything you will see is a product of his spirit."..

comments powered by Disqus