No, we didn’t misspell Michael Bierut‘s name. This time we’re actually talking about the capital of Lebanon, where the political posters, flags, and banners that once plastered city streets have been prohibited. The “poster disarmament” is in support of reconciliation efforts between the rival Shiite and Sunni Muslim factions. Posters depicting political leaders past and present were “emblematic of the intense divide among feuding clans” and frequently triggered violent incidents, according to Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star. Last month, two people were killed in a gunfight that erupted over the hanging of a political banner in north Lebanon.
“The Muslim factions took down their posters simultaneously around Beirut at the start of the month, and political graffiti was cleaned off walls,” according to an Associated Press report published earlier today. “There are negotiations to do the same in the city’s suburbs—including on the highway leading to the airport—and other parts of the country.” While most applaud the move to defuse tension and promote safety in Beirut, others are less optimistic. “In principle, it’s a good step. But it doesn’t solve anything,” 26-year-old Suha Menessa told the AFP. “The pictures aren’t the problem, the political discourse and bickering is the problem.” And the city may not stay poster-free for long; Parliamentary elections are only a few months away.