Lebanese Illustrator Nour Flayhan is Calling Out Racism in the Region

A new initiative urges Arabs to take action against Kafala


In the wake of the death of George Floyd, it is fundamental that we Arabs, have serious conversations about how we fix racism in the MENA region. For Lebanese illustrator Nour Flayhan, it’s very clear that it is time for action, not words. 

In a post shared on Instagram earlier this week, the young artist called out the Kafala system, commiting to donating the money from her commissioned work to This Is Lebanon (a coalition of former domestic workers and activists demanding the protection of migrant domestic workers) and Egna Legna (a feminist organisation protecting Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon). 

The Kafala sponsorship system controls the migrant labourers in Lebanon and in the Gulf, forbidding them from leaving their employees without losing their immigration status. 

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This post is not to take away from the fight for justice for black lives in the U.S but Now is the perfect time to call out racism in our very own country Lebanon & to take action. It’s our duty to dismantle oppressive systems, to speak up and to call for actions in order to abolish Kafala- a system of neo-slavery. I will be donating the money from my illustrated commissions to both @thisislebanon961 (a project run by a coalition of former domestic workers and activists demanding the protection of migrant domestic workers, and an end to labour exploitation and abuse, with the aim to effectively end government-sanctioned, modern-day slavery in Lebanon) and @egnalegna (a community-based feminist activists working on migrant domestic workers’ issues and general women’s issues in Lebanon and Ethiopia). Attached is information about the Kafala system explained by @rymbadran from @girluplebanon. You can help by donating to @thisislebanon961 and @egnalegna #kafalasystem #abolishkafala #nourieillustrations #blacklivesmatter

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Flayhan’s now-viral illustration isn’t her first post dedicated to anti-racism. Drawing from a wealth of pop culture references, she has been using illustration for years as a way of celebrating female beauty by representing women of all colours. “My physique tells the story of my ancestors. I never wanted to be what the media portrayed or what society expected me to be. I loved who I was and she gave me that and I feel like so many young girls and women of all ages are told otherwise or feel otherwise and I want to share this bubble my mum gave me with them all. We don’t have to conform to any standards or expectations”, she told MILLE back in 2018. 

Far more than just a celebration of the female form, Flayhan’s work explores the relationship between identity, representation, gender, power and capitalism, providing a space for contemplation, reflection and resistance. 

Here re some of Flayhan’s most powerful illustrations.

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“Can I touch your hair?” #nourieillustrations #ipadpro

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