Artist Protests Against Pegida—With a Beat-Up Car

Manaf Halbouni Sachse Auf Der Flucht (2015) Photo: Manaf Halbouni

Since January 5, 2015, a used blue Mercedes with a bike, a television, a fridge, and a beer crate strapped onto the roof has been parked on Dresden’s Theaterplatz, the protest site of the German anti-Islam group Pegida. It has now emerged that the vehicle is an art intervention by a 30-year-old German-Syrian art student, DNN reports.

The son of a Syrian architecture professor and a German woman, Manaf Halbouni started the project to illustrate a predicament he shares with many Germans from Syrian descent. “For me it feels like a curse,” Halbouni told DNN “I can’t go back to Syria, but I’m not welcome here either. It’s unbelievable. I don’t want to lose Germany as a home as well. Where should I go?”

“The news and images on TV have become surreal to me.” he continued. “I can’t go back to Damascus. There’s a civil war. But here in Dresden ignorance and arrogance reign. This dumb mob frightens me.”

Halbouni took to art to express his frustration. Entitled Sachse of der Flucht (2015) (Saxon on the Run), the artist’s beat-up blue Mercedes is filled with his favorite things from the two countries he loves: German beer and garden gnomes together with Arabic books. The young artist has also invited the residents of Dresden to participate by taking pictures with his car and uploading them online. He hopes to exhibit the photographs and the car at Saxony’s state senate to send a message to Pegida that their hate is not welcome.

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