In what is a sobering reminder of the situation at hand, a mural of George Floyd now graces the exterior of a wall in the war-torn town of Idlib, Syria. With everything around it reduced to debris, the painting, created by Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun, reaffirms that injustice—no matter where it was dealt, and by whom it was dealt—leaves grief in its wake.
— The Syria Campaign (@TheSyriaCmpgn) June 1, 2020
Living through a humanitarian crisis of their own, Asmar and Hamdoun’s choice to stand in solidarity with the African-American community has sent an important message about allyship and mobilizing change. Placing the words “I can’t breathe” and “no to racism” alongside their portrait of Floyd, the piece has been lauded world-over for its power and poignancy in delivering a message that has too long gone undetected.
Many prominent figures, both in Syria and beyond, have taken to social media to share the piece. Among them; journalist Muhammad Lila. Acknowledging the devastation that has been bestowed upon the town of Idlib, Lila references the last standing wall upon which the mural has been painted. In a twitter post, he writes “Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun could have painted anything they wanted on this remaining wall. They chose to paint a mural of George Floyd.”
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.#Humanity
— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) June 1, 2020
Following suit, fellow journalist Abdalaziz Alhamza also commended Asmar and Hamdoun’s call to action, saying “from #Idlib #Syria all the way to the #US & the rest of the world #NoToRacism #ICantBreathe #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd,”
As #Syria is going through a lot and people there are getting killed everyday, it doesn’t mean that the free Syrian people wouldn’t stand with others people
— Abdalaziz Alhamza (@3z0ooz) June 1, 2020
Embodying compassion, empathy, and conviction, Asmar and Hamdoun’s mural poetically reframes the plight for justice in a context of privilege that those outside of war-torn nations will struggle to understand. Yet in attempting to provide help while consequently being in need of help, the pair have used their art to lead by example. As protests around the world continue to erupt, one can only hope to follow in their light and do the same.