Young artists are a creative bunch and some of the most inspiring art work I've ever seen was created by the youth of the 60's and 70's. It was during this time that the hippies tripped out their vans and VW in the signs of the times. These vehicles were a beautifully garish, but courageous expressions of political dissent which exposed the owners to real dangers on the highway from police and rednecks.
The hippie van or VW was characterized by its graffiti approach to decoration, its use of peace and anti- war symbols and its independent spirit. As such these imaginative and revolutionary works of art were subversive and expressed personal statements that were more often than not political or social. Hippie car art tells the picture story of a revolutionary period of time in American history.
Now Pakistani youth are making a political statement that is meant to counter the relentless message of violence spewed forth by radical Islamic groups in their country.
Radical Islamists have long used the rickshaws to market slogans in support of religious warfare in neighboring India and Afghanistan and to foster hatred against the United States. Now, fighting fire with fire, the youth of Pakistan are creating a fleet of rickshaws emblazoned with peace slogans and decorated with colorful designs similar to those once used in the 60's and 70's by the youth of America to market their message of peace.
Workshops were held and over 200 students came up with designs and slogans for the rickshaws. Some slogans take common street expressions, such as "Hey dude, don't tease," and give them a peaceful twist: "Hey dude, don't fight."Others cite snippets of Sufi poems, phrases from Islam's holy book, the Quran, or messages of interfaith harmony: "Respecting other religions brings respect for your religion." One of the most direct is: "I'm driving a rickshaw, not a bullet."
Ironically, a couple of the rickshaw drivers who were interviewed by AP writer couldn't read the slogans painted on their vehicles because they are illiterate, which is a common problem in a country where the literacy rate is near 50 percent.