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Syrian artist paints George Floyd mural in solidarity against racism and state brutality

On one of the few walls left standing in the devastated town of Idlib Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun joined thousands globally to express solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement

June 2, 2020 at 3:59 pm

A Syrian graffiti artist in the opposition held north-west province of Idlib has painted a mural commemorating the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in the US.

Aziz Al-Asmar, 48, painted the wall of his destroyed house in his hometown of Binnish in Idlib over the weekend, in solidarity against racism in the US and around the world.

“We are advocates of peace and freedom,” explained Al-Asmar. “We believe it is our duty to stand in solidarity with global humanitarian causes.”

The mural shows Floyd’s face and the phrases “No to Racism” and “I cannot breathe”. The latter is what the African-American man said as he pleaded for the white policeman to take his knee off his neck.

The ‘I can’t breathe’ protests target police brutality and injustice

Following the incident, which was recorded on a smart phone and shared on social media, protests broke out in the city of Minneapolis where it took place. Unrest spread to other cities across the US and turned into riots.

Over the past week, the situation has become so severe that protesters were criticised for destroying local black-owned businesses. Groups such as Antifa (Anti-Fascist Action) have been accused of infiltrating local communities and instigating the violence.

The protests reached all the way to the White House over the weekend, forcing President Donald Trump to call for tougher measures. He wants the military to intervene and contain the protesters.

Al-Asmar drew a comparison between police brutality and racism in the US and state brutality in Syria. The people in Syria, he said, can see a link between death by asphyxiation in America and death by poisonous gas in their own country.

One chemical weapons report should not whitewash a decade of Assad’s crimes

Chemical weapons have been used against Syrian civilians and protesters throughout the civil war, with the finger of blame pointing at the Assad regime.

This has been denied repeatedly by both the regime and its ally Russia; both claim that the attacks and allegations are Western-backed conspiracies by opposition groups to smear the regime.

Al-Asmar said that his painting symbolises solidarity with the oppressed in both countries. “I chose to use the destroyed walls because they are stronger in delivering messages to sympathise with the oppressed people,” he added.