Palestinian Alaa Minawi has been working as a light artist in Beirut for over ten years. Working with Syrian refugees as a translator prompted him to create "my light is your light", an installation about the plight of the people he spoke to.
"The installation represents a family of six," says Minawi. "A father, mother, a grandfather, an aunt and two children. They are walking, leaving their home."
Minawi's installation has toured several cities, including Amsterdam. He says: "I think people want to see the humanitarian side of this conflict. They want to understand that they are real people who are forced to leave their country. Festivals have been very interested in spreading this message."
"In Amsterdam, their perception of the art is based more on a humanitarian level. When people were looking at it, they just stood, had a moment of silence and then kept on moving. In Beirut it was a different reaction. Beirut has millions of refugees and we have a cultural connection with the Syrians, so we feel that we are also a part of this conflict, like we're getting affected by it. When we see it, we have the baggage of, we are also going through this and we react in a different way."
"Minawi's grandfather left Palestine in 1948 and sought asylum in Beirut. He says: "When the Syrians were telling me their stories, there were times I thought, maybe my grandfather went through this. Maybe he has gone through one of these stories. I cannot imagine how hard it must be."
"When I talked to these refugees, I felt they had an aura," says Minawi. "I believe everyone has an aura, has light. And I noticed that they glow with this strong light. I thought this was happening because their stories were trying to come out from their skin."
"I believed that the Syrians I spoke to wanted to tell their stories so badly it was shining through their skin. I thought, this installation shouldn't have the skin, it shouldn't have the body shape, I should only have an outline that shines which is the story that they have gone through."
"Minawi hopes that his installation will eventually end up in Germany, where thousands of refugees have been welcomed since last summer. He says: "Now I have a plan for this installation. At the end of the tour I'm going to make an auction. I'm hoping in Germany. I contacted Angela Merkel. I sent her an e-mail, but she hasn't answered yet."
"My message to Europe is, if you have refugees in your country, treat them like human beings-- don't be scared of them. Anyone, anyone in the world could have been through what they have been through. Europe went through this in World War Two- and that wasn't even long ago. So let's be kind to these people and help them."