Following a spate of tire burning protests in Beirut that choke the city’s skies and people, Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri staged a colorful protest. The creative duo behind Bokja Design Studio treated more than a dozen tires with the same reverence as their antique and vintage furniture pieces by wrapping them in opulent textiles reminiscent of the Levant and legendary Silk Road. They then scattered the adorned tires across a road in Saifi Village as two young volunteers held a banner stating quite simply: “We are Tyred.”
Disenchanted Lebanese residents have been blocking Beirut roads with stacks of burning tires in order to protest against the shooting of two Muslim preachers in Akkar, another man at a Batroun Army checkpoint, and the kidnapping of 11 pilgrims in Syria. Constant power outages have fuelled their ire.
Whilst attempting to subdue these violent elements is understandable, the approach is exceptionally toxic to both the environment and people.
As Linda pointed out in a previous post, burning tires releases “a concentration of dangerous metal particles such as zinc, mercury, lead and chromium…[and] toxic gases like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are type 1A carcinogens.”
These carcinogens then build up in the food chain and adversely affect immune systems and fertility.
“Tyred” of the black smog, the Bokja duo, whose studio emphasizes sustainable design and local craftsmanship of the most sensuous order, took a more inspired approach to social protest.
“They were planning to install them on the Airport Road since it has become the symbol of social discontent,” according to the author of Ghannouj Around the World. “I don’t know if they could but what I know is that we are working on getting the approval to have the installation at the arrivals of Rafic Hariri International Airport since the tire became as much a symbol of Lebanon as the cedar tree.”
Uniformed men and women sporting weapons who showed up to the scene looked conspicously out of place amid the peaceful protestors, but Baroudi and Hibri were unphased. “We took it to the streets. Someone wasn’t too happy about it. #WeDontCare #WeAreTyred,” they wrote on their Facebook page. And they have received a huge outpouring of support from their many followers.
“I wish that Lebanon is identified with ONLY the amazing/artistic people like you guys,” wrote one fan.
“Very creative and expressive,” wrote another. “Hope it will reach the minds of all and acknowledge the bad impacts of burning. So to those who want to protest, use wheels but don’t burn.”