BEIRUT: Peace is the word this weekend, as the Lebanese Red Cross committee’s third annual Peace Festival kicks off in Downtown Beirut. The festival will open Friday at 9 p.m. with a ceremony in Martyrs’ Square, during which volunteers will take part in a candlelight vigil from the Beirut Souks to the square, and form the word “peace” in Arabic and English.
The three-day event is organized by the youth department of the Red Cross and aims to “promote and disseminate the concepts of anti-violence culture, mutual understanding, tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for diversity,” festival organizers said.
It also aims at “encouraging cooperation and synergies among various community groups.”
Iyad Monzer, the director of public relations and communication for the Red Cross, told The Daily Star that “this year, we aim at spreading peace concepts, which is the main aim of the Red Cross committee, and concentrate on renouncing violence and accepting the other. Those concepts will be expressed in more than one field.”
“The candlelight march is meant to say that there is a possibility during these dark times to light a candle for peace,” Monzer said.
Each night of the festival will feature live music performances, with singers taking to the open-air stage in Martyrs’ Square nightly between 9 p.m. and midnight. The square will be closed to motorists at night.
Among the artists performing on stage will be Jad Khalifeh, Nay Suleiman, Iwan, Alaa Zalzali, Rayyan and Maya Nehme.
An art exhibition will also be part of the festival with the participation of several professional painters and sculptors, among them the renowned Bernard Rinno. These artists will exhibit pieces and paintings with “peace” as a common theme.
There will also be various peace-building sporting activities, the highlight of which may well prove to be a basketball game featuring teams comprising players from different Lebanese clubs. The event will take place at the American University of Beirut’s playing grounds Sunday.
A two-day peace workshop will also held at UNESCO Palace Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
“The workshop will bring together young people from across Lebanon and from different civil society organizations to discuss issues relating to the means of holding dialogue, exchanging different points of views and learning how to accept different ideas and accept the other parties in the country,” Monzer said.