German city withdraws prize from Lebanese artist over BDS support

Beirut (QNN)- The German city of Aachen denied Wednesday Lebanese artist Walid Raad the 10,000 euros worth Nelly Sachs prize because of his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, reported the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.

The US-Lebanese artist was selected for the prize for his work ‘The Atlas Group’ on the history of the civil war in Lebanon between 1989 and 2004.

Al-Akhbar said Aachen Mayor Marcel Philipp said in a statement that “according to research, we have to assume that the nominated prize-winner is a supporter of the BDS movement and has participated in several measures in the cultural boycott of Israel.”

When Raad refused to distance himself from the BDS movement, the prize was taken away from him.

“Raad’s answer is not only evasive,” Aachen’s mayor said, “but should be perceived as ‘mocking and smug’. The answer does not do justice to the seriousness of the topic.”

Raad, a celebrated visual artist, is best known for The Atlas Group, an art project that started in 1999 and continued until 2014 that produced mixed-media installations and performances inspired by Lebanon’s contemporary history.

In May 2015, Raad was barred from entering the UAE over his membership of Gulf Labor, a group that involves artists trying to draw attention to the treatment of workers on the construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which was launched in November 2017.

In May, the German parliament passed a motion condemning the BDS movement as antisemitic. It accused BDS of utilising “patterns and methods” used by the Nazi movement during the Holocaust.

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