BEIRUT: The sounds of hairdryers engulf the vast halls of Biel, as it plays host to the annual wedding fair labeled Wedding Folies, where both seasoned and aspiring hair stylists are at work offering their services free of charge to those circulating the exhibition space.
As women were getting their hair coiffed, examining flower arrangements, testing makeup from a number of the world’s most prestigious brands, or watching the bridal fashion show displaying the country’s top designers wedding dresses; one exhibition booth stood out like a sore thumb amid the festive event.
'Eleguns', a gun service company offering newlyweds “perfectly planned,” and “beautifully executed” gun shows for any kind of wedding.
While some couples approaching the booth expressed their disbelief of such services being openly offered to the public, others were surprisingly interested in potentially inviting a celebratory gun show for hire.
This is despite that fact that Lebanon condemns the act of celebratory gunfire as illegal, with a possible sentence of from six months to three years in prison, accompanied by a fine. If gunfire results in the killing a person then the penalty would be ten years in jail, according to the Lebanese penal code.
Having been briefed on the assortment of professional shooters, the available arsenal of weapons and prices, the couple is then asked to register their information at the assistant’s desk.
What these interested parties shortly find out, however, is that the entire booth is a stunt done by the Permanent Peace Movement, a locally-based NGO that focused on social aspects of the Lebanese community.
When the ruse is unmasked, the couple is asked if they would like to sign a document vowing them to keep their wedding safe and gun-free.
“Our campaign was controversial in nature and equipped with a shock value that would make people talk about the dangers of celebratory gunfire and ultimately, to change behavior,” Fadi Abi Allam, president and executive director of the NGO, told Annahar.
Allam also stressed the need for Lebanese society to let go of such age-old traditions that hinder communities from moving forward.
The arbitrary use of gunfire in celebrations is regarded as an inherited cultural practice which has been passed from generation to generation and has established itself as a form of displaying power and dominance.
In opposition, the Internal Security Forces have stepped up multiple campaigns on social media, universities and at certain events to explain to people the dangers and consequences of celebratory gunfire.
The ISF has used multiple social media campaigns, such as the use of hashtags to report incidents of celebratory gunfire, calling on the aid of citizens to post pictures or videos of the assailants to help bring them to justice.
“The hashtags have helped in apprehending a number of the people misusing their firearms at a number of events, be it by sharing their pictures or videos when the incident occurs in a neighborhood,” a security source told Annahar.
The ISF’s efforts also include the creation of a page called “Balligh,” Arabic for “Report” on their website, which allows any citizen to file a complaint or red flag an area or a person where a misuse of gunfire is occurring.
Many have labeled the perpetrators of this phenomenon as criminals, while lawmakers and politicians from across the political spectrum have condemned the misuse of firearms.
“We want to remind people that weddings, celebrations or any kinds of joyful events should be kept safe, away from the misuse of firearms which can turn someone’s happy moment into a despairing one,” Allam told Annahar.
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