In the past week, the police killing of George Floyd, an African-American man has triggered widespread protests in different parts of the world. Using art to join the protest and express solidarity, two Syrian artists have painted a mural of Floyd, on one of the last walls left standing in a war-torn Syrian town of Idlib.
The two artists, Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun, painted powerful murals of Floyd that read “I can’t breathe” and “no to racism”. Twitter and netizens across the globe hailed the artists for choosing to paint a mural with this message, in Syria, which itself is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Sharing the viral photos, tweep @MuhammadLila posted: "This town in Syria was destroyed. There were hardly any walls left. Two artists - Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun - could have painted anything they wanted on this remaining wall. They chose to paint a mural of George Floyd.”
And tweep, @maitelsadany shared a video with the caption: “As they finish up their memorial mural in Idlib, Syria, the artists remember the late George Floyd, iterate their stance against all forms of racism, and emphasise that they hope all people will be able to live in freedom and dignity.”
Appreciating the artists, @BegumLila tweeted: “Thinking of others during your own personal hardship, struggles and in caught in the middle of a war, that’s humanity at its best. Very few can be this compassionate, we mustn't forget them too.” And, @Traveldogs36 added: “Truly amazing, beautiful. My heart goes out to Syrians with their own tragedies.”
Using hashtags such as #NoToRacism #ICantBreathe #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, other Syrian tweeps also shared the images, saying this was a message of solidarity, “from #Syria all the way to the #US, and the rest of the world”.
US Twitter user @AlexGSimon observed: “I am continually in awe of the empathy and nuance with which people around the world observe events in the US—even as we ignore, misunderstand, and victimise those same communities.”
On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. Viral videos showed that Floyd was arrested and pinned beneath three police officers. After repeatedly pleading with the cops, and saying the words, “I can’t breathe”, he gradually died from asphyxiation [hyperlink]. The phrase became symbolic during the protests, and hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, resurfaced. On May 29, a mural honouring him emerged near the site of his death too.
Street artists in other parts of the world have memorialised Floyd through art on walls. Photos of these artworks have been widely shared on social media.
Tweep @jammmorjelly added: “If art could give back life... thank you for the power, solidarity and light in these murals. #icantbreathe”