Tunisia's tallest minaret, part of the Jara Mosque in the south-eastern industrial city of Gabès, has become one of graffiti artist eL Seed's latest "canvases". If at first this seems like a blasphemous attrocity, think again, as the artist was granted permission by the mosque's Imam himself.
The French-born Tunisian artist, whom Khaleejesque previously interviewed, was suspended 57 meters in the air in order to paint the country's largest graffiti mural. The project, which took place on July 20th, 2012 during Ramadan, came about after recent clashes in Tunisia between some religious sects and the art community.
Funded by Barjeel Art Foundation, the mural is 57-meters high and covers one side of the minaret. It displays a verse from the Qura'an which says, "Oh humankind, we have created you from a male and a female and made people and tribes so you may know each other."
The verse was chosen for the message it implies, a message of tolerance between races, cultures and sects.
eL Seed's main aim was to show the public that a religious entity can also become the canvas for a public artwork, and hopefully unite the two sectors. "This project is not about decorating a mosque, it is about making art a visible actor in the process of cultural and political change. I truly believe that art can bring about fruitful debate, especially within the uncertain political climate right now in Tunisia," he said.
The mosque's Imam, Slah Thebet, has high hopes for this unique project, saying, "I hope that this artistic wall on the minaret will help to revive the city, and especially tourism in Gabes."
– Alya Al-Othman
Images: From Here to Fame