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Palestinian Street Artists Take to Walls With New Zeal

Walls in Palestine have sported "Free Palestine” for decades. But recently, inspired by the Arab Spring and the region's growing art scene, Palestinians have stepped up their creative game. Lena Odgaard talks to artists and activists about the significant increase of political street art in Ramallah. See photos of the tags, murals and slogans.
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RAMALLAH — The streets of Ramallah, on the West Bank, have seen a significant increase in graffiti over the past year, including drawings of Palestinians in Israeli jails, social media-inspired tags such as #OccupyWallStNotPalestine and religious symbols. While Palestinian graffiti had always been political and reflected the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s occupation, street art now puts a greater emphasis on aesthetics and originality, said Palestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid. He attributes this recent development to what he describes as an "art explosion" following a wave of popular uprisings that swept through the Arab world, though not in the Palestinian territories.

”Street art in Palestine was boosted by the Arab revolutions, which led to a lot of graffiti all around the Arab world,” he said. Street art is used as an outlet for people to talk about big existential issues, which for years were repressed in countries ruled by dictatorships, he explained. The boom in street art in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria inspired Palestinian artists to address issues in their own community, most noticeably the hunger strike of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel this past spring.

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