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IN PICTURES: Palestinian youth find freedom in Parkour

Young Palestinians from Jerusalem escape their troubled lives and the occupation thanks to the extreme sport that is free running, and to the friendship between them
Jihad, Mahmoud and Sami are doing free running in Jerusalem (MEE/Constance Decorde)

JERUSALEM - “This is my life. I can’t walk even one meter without doing it.”

Sami, 21 years old, who comes from Jerusalem's Old City, created the first Palestinian Parkour team in 2008 after watching the French movie Banlieue 13. “I feel free when I’m doing it, I can pass easily all the obstacles on my way,” Sami said before jumping into the air.

Parkour is the art of expressing oneself in his or her environment without limitation of movement. Parkour was officially invented in France in the 90s by David Belle and in 2004 became a more acrobatic freestyle discipline known as “free running”.

In Jerusalem, Sami and his friends, particularly Jihad, 19, and Mahmoud, 17, practice free running above the streets of the old market, on the walls of the old city, on the top of the Wall, in their university: in every corner they can find for their back flips.

More than a sport, free running allows them to escape the reality of their lives, to be free to move and to go wherever they want without any hindrance.

The situation is quite different in their everyday lives.

This reportage shows how these young Palestinians from Jerusalem come to escape their troubled lives and the occupation thanks to this extreme sport that is free running as well as the friendship between them.

In their daily lives, Sami, Jihad and Mahmoud and their friends are working or studying, but when they perform their jumps in front of Israeli soldiers, or when they run on the walls of the old city or climb up the wall, they feel free, strong and able to overcome everything.

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