As Lucien Bourjeily recovers from alleged targeted police brutality at the American University of Beirut's Medical Center, the activist and director reassured fans and followers of the YouStink movement on social media that his fight against government corruption was far from over.
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شكراً الكن كلكن...بحبكن كلكن وبوسكن... مفروض أطلع اليوم من المستشفى.. :* :)و عندي بس سؤال لوزير الداخلية: ليش شحطوا الإ...
Translation: "Thank you everyone. I love you all. I'm scheduled to be released from the hospital today. I only have one question to the Minister of Interior: why did you kick out the press before you came at us? Why did you, as soon as you interrupted the press' live coverage, use your boots, batons in a barbaric, totalitarian way? You are [part of] the dictatorship of shame. You have no dignity and no gull. Because we were 100% peaceful, you cut off the press so that you wouldn't let them show the crime you committed. You [works as] the mafia and your corruption has invaded the government... but the people will hold you accountable, and it will do so soon."
Bourjeily told StepFeed Wednesday afternoon that he was out of the hospital, but still recovering.
Bourjeily was one of dozens of peaceful protesters who staged an 8-hour sit-in inside the Environment Ministry in Downtown Beirut Tuesday afternoon, demanding the immediate resignation of Environment Minister Mohamad al-Machnouk for his inability to solve a crippling trash crisis .
A picture showing him unconscious after being severely assaulted by officers went viral Tuesday night, causing public outcry on social media and the press:
But just who is Lucien Bourjeily?
Actor, director, playwright, Bourjeily rose to fame after publicly campaigning against state censorship of theater and film, with the help of MARCH, an NGO that hopes to foster tolerance and diversity within Lebanese society.
Holding an MFA from Loyola Mormont University in Los Angeles, Bourjeily brought improvised acting to the Lebanese stage, in an attempt, as he calls it, to create "immersive and interactive" theater. He has previously led workshops on improvised acting, screenwriting, and directing.
"If I have to describe my art in one word, I would say it's thought-provoking," Bourjeily said over the phone. "It provokes thought, like a book provokes you to think and go beyond what is obvious."
In an LBCI interview from 2011, the award-winning director said he was "using art for social activism," believing that every work of art has to deliver a pertinent message to its audience.
Bourjeily has repeatedly merged his art with social activism. In May 2014, his passport was confiscated by the Lebanese General Security ahead of a scheduled appearance in London where he was set to present "Bto2ta3... Aw Ma Bto2ta3?" ("Would it Pass or Not?"), an interactive play about censorship of artistic works in Lebanon. His play, which was banned in Lebanon, landed him a nomination by the Index on Censorship for its Freedom of Expression Awards.
CNN listed him as one of eight "leading lights" in Lebanese culture for his innovative work that had local and international impact.
Recently, he brought youth and militants from warring neighborhoods in Tripoli onto the Beirut stage in "Love and War on the Rooftop," a play that was described " darkly funny " and praised for " confronting the taboo concept of reconciliation ."The production, which was also done in collaboration with MARCH, ran from mid-June to the beginning of August and brought a full house to standing ovation.
"The play has a message of breaking the taboos of sectarian speech and the manipulation of politicians, who are the true enemy of the Lebanese people," he said.
Bourjeily's prominent role in the YouStink campaign may have brought him renewed attention, but the activist-artist is no stranger to controversy - or fighting the Lebanese government for the advancement of civil society.
"Art could be a way into the heart and mind of the people," Bourjeily added. "Art breaks the boundaries of the system."