Practice Spotlight: How to stop the threat of Tripoli’s Stray Bullets

Above: the media campaign ‘Stray Bullets’ designed by Tripoli youth through SCN’s Young Cities programme is discussed on Lebanese national television

Author: Nayla Joy-Zein
Regional Coordinator

Around the world, celebratory gunfire is a serious threat to life, with some bullets potentially reaching terminal velocity of 300 feet (91m) per second as they fall. Efforts by law enforcement to ban gunfire as part of celebrations have often failed, as guns are often fired during celebrations such as New Year and Eid, where the sound is often mistaken for fireworks. Additionally, injuries and deaths are not initially attributed to celebratory gunfire, as bullets fired can travel vast distances before landing. This raises the question – how can we stop the threat of stray bullets? Youth from Tripoli in Lebanon came up with a novel approach.

After attending a Young Cities Innovation Lab in Beirut in May 2018, a group of youths from Tripoli, Lebanon, decided to produce a media campaign “Farha Taysha” (Stray Bullet Killjoy), designed to draw attention to the dangers of celebratory gunfire. The idea originated from some of the youths’ personal experiences: each one of them had been affected by an incident involving celebratory gunfire. Some of their relatives, friends and acquaintances had even been killed by a stray bullet.

How the campaign started

At the Youth Innovation Lab held in May 2018, the group designed a twofold activity, using both online and offline components to allow the local community to reflect on the implications of celebratory gunfire. With the help and support of the municipality, which fully endorsed the youths’ message, the group staged a mock wedding on one of the busiest streets in Tripoli. People stopped their cars and some pedestrians joined the festivities before fake gunshots were fired, in which one of the actors pretended to be shot. The scene was meant to elicit shock from members of the public who were watching. The actors ended the scene with signposts denouncing celebratory gunfire. The whole act was filmed and the video was released on social media and shared over 300 times, attracting over 200,000 views.

Media coverage

The event quickly garnered national interest. The group presented their work to several stakeholders including a delegation from the European Commission visiting Tripoli’s flagship projects. They were also invited to speak about their experience on a radio show and later on one of the top TV stations in Lebanon alongside advisor to the Prime Minister Dr. Fadi Abi-Allam, families of victims and other local campaigns. Farha Taysha was portrayed as part of the burgeoning local efforts that aim to end the use of gunfire as a mode of celebration. As one of the campaign organisers put it, “Let us not turn moments of joy into grief”.

Click to view the Farha Taysha Facebook page, or watch the behind the scenes footage of the campaign below, including interviews with locals.

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