MOUHARAMAT According to Marc Twain, "there is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable". But sometimes, something is forbidden because it's unspeakably wounding. My photography project "Moharamat" is about the forbidden and the sacred. "Moharamat" is an Arabic word which, for the purpose of my project, I found very difficult to translate. If I want to use excessive literalism, I would translate "haram" as a taboo, or as the forbidden, but in fact the idea behind the title "Moharamat" is more complex than that. In fact, the best part of the word is unfortunately lost in translation. "Harām" has two meanings in the Arabic language. It can be used to describe something that is forbidden, or something that a person would be punished for, while it also describes inviolate zones and sacred places. "Moharamat" is the plural of "haram" and is used for this project to depict the consecration and the illicitness of certain acts.
I fell in love with my City Aleppo in2007 only to be forced to leave it a few years later due to the uprising that was instigated in March 2011. The same city that inspired me most is now in ruins and for some time I did lose my inspiration. However, the more I read the news, and the more I contemplated pictures of the wreck that my city had turned into, the more I accumulated strength to rise from the ruins in order to speak through my pictures.
My project reveals the hypocrisy of our world and the incoherent logic we are willing to stick by.
They say it is prohibited to depict the naked body in pictures or drawings. It is haram to show the
human body in all its intimacy. One would be punished for a forbidden glimpse of God's creation
but would be rewarded for the destruction of heritage in the aim of spreading God's word or
I beg to differ.
They say that a glimpse of the human body is beautiful and is there to admire in all its perfection.
They say that heritage is material, and destroying it in wrath and anger is mere collateral damage
for a good cause, I say it is "MOHARMAM".
As I see my cultural heritage treated as a disposable material object that is owned by its destroyers I am forced to speak. This is mine, as it is yours, as is the heritage of every country owned by its people. This is our past, and WHO OWNS THE PAST? Collectively, we own our past and we should conserve it. Then we own our future and we should build it. Our heritage is as sacred as our bodies - we should protect it.
The destruction of cultural heritage is as destructing as rape and assault which are forbidden by the law and by all religions as well. Since the concept of religion has now penetrated all spheres of my society, I ask for the same religions that the slayers use to justify destruction, to condemn it. War will never bring peace for "winning a war is as disastrous as losing one" (Agatha Christie).
My project is a plead to put destruction to a halt, a plead to save our past, a plead to respect the
forbidden, a plead to respect the sacred. In Lincoln's words, "To sin by silence when they should
protest makes cowards of men" and I refuse to be a coward. THIS IS MY PROTEST