Handprints make peace and a new world record

“The world record is a challenge that unites Tunisians for a common cause: to send a strong message to the world that Tunisians are actively committed to peace and human rights” said Dimiter Chalev, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in Tunisia.

The record is that of the world’s largest handprint painting, which Tunisia set during the International Peace Festival which took place in September. The handprint painting measured 10,336 square meters, beating the record set for such a painting that was held by Saudi Arabia by just over 200 square meters.

The record-breaking painting was the culmination of a nearly month-long tour of the canvas through Tunisia. The idea came from a Tunisian youth activist Mootez Billah Oueslati, a medical student and director of the Association of “Emel Tounes” -Jendouba, who saw this as a way to help remind Tunisians of values of peace, tolerance and solidarity.

Chalev called the creation of the canvas “a team effort.” A group of 24 peace ambassadors and more than 500 volunteers was formed. Each ambassador, an activist or leader in their respective region of the country, was given a section of canvas to be decorated with thousands of handprints of Tunisian citizens from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds

The ensuring month-long Peace Festival – organised in collaboration with civil society, governmental authorities, and the UN Human Rights Office in Tunisia – brought into dozens of villages and towns across the country together with a strong message of peace. A rich entertainment program was provided throughout Tunisia and continued for weeks, for free, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of Tunisian youth.

The canvas was finally unveiled during the closing ceremony of the International Peace Festival. And while it still has to be submitted to the Guinness World Record officials, it has been officially measured by Tunisian authorities, who verified its size.

The canvas will be turned into eco-friendly bags that will be sold to finance a national centre to fight drug abuse that will be built in Jendouba.

Chalev said while the world record was a wonderful achievement, the bigger prize has been bringing together Tunisians and reminding the world of their values.

“Tunisia remains a land of peace and tolerance, the values of human rights and human dignity are deeply rooted in every Tunisian,” he said.

29 October 2014

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