Saturday, September 16, 2006

Aleppo photo festival

Aleppo citadel, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

We read in the NRC Handelsblad (to which we have just subscribed for six weeks for € 15) that the authorities in Syria have been doing their very best to make it difficult to put on the Aleppo Photo festival. About three Dutch photographers, among many others around the world were asked to submit photos and they have been supported by various charities here, such as the Prins Claus Fund, which seeks to support artisticand cultural achievement in other countries.

However, it seems that the Syrian authorities are very scared of the power of photography and have beeen refusing permisison ofr the festival to take place in any place other than a small gallery in town (not wanting to be accused of stopping it completely). They have also restricted teh amount of post that any Syrian citizen can receive to one parcel a month(apparently) and teh organisers had great difficulties in getting their hands on the photographs which had been submitted. I do not claim to be any expert on the Syrian Government, but after two weeks in the delightful country of Syria, we were baffled by the attitude of the authorities and why they so much seemed to want to cut their country off from the mainstream of the world. Maybe many reasons and I doubt if many of them are very good reasons.

Anyway, we also hear on flickr about various Middle Eastern regimes which ban the site, countries such as Iran and United Arab Emirates, no doubt Saudi Arabia too. It is a testament to the power of photography as well as a monument to the closedness of the societies that things should get so far.

Good luck to the people in the great city of Aleppo and let's hope that as many people go as can fit into the tiny gallery.


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