Buddha: The Unwanted Visitor
Photo Blog by Marwan Tahtah
Four years ago, a statue of Buddha arrived in Lebanon. It was shipped over from India by film director Silvio Tabet, who put it up on his own private piece of land, high up in Baskinta in the mountains of the Metn, northeast of Beirut.
The Buddha overlooks the Keserwan mountain range, Beirut, and the Mediterranean. It is about 100 meters away from the historic Mar Youssef Church and the world’s tallest lit cross.
The Buddha statue, which also took two years to complete, was finely sculpted by an Indian artist. It sits alone, tucked away behind a hill, out of sight.
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Peaceful and unobstructive, it is always open to visitors. Despite that, it is completely rejected by some of the local people and tourists to the area.
One old lady scowls when the statue is mentioned. She says that if she could blow it up, she would. It is clear that many of the locals have not been able to accept the presence of an “alien object,” as Father Farid calls it, among them.
Youth now regularly throw stones at the statue, trying to damage it by any means possible. Signs of hatred can be seen clearly on the statue, which has lost its right arm and some of the fingers on the remaining one. Its face is totally disfigured because of the continuous stonings.
People have also taken to defacing it with black and red spray paint, decorating it with political and religious slogans, even adding some insults along the way.