A mural paying tribute to George Floyd was painted on a bomb-shattered building in Syria last week – but it has been destroyed by an Al-Qaeda extremist group.
The Minneapolis man’s death last month in police custody sparked the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.
A mural erected in Syria has been defaced – apparently by militants affiliated to hardline Islamist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS).
Syrian street artists Aziz Al-Asmar and Anis Hamdoun painted the mural to express solidarity with the global anti-racism movement on what was once Al-Asmar’s home in Binnish, Idlib Province.
Speaking to Middle East Monitor last week, shortly after the piece was finished, Al-Asmar said: “We are advocates of peace and freedom.”
He added : “We believe it is our duty to stand in solidarity with global humanitarian causes.”
Asmar put photos of the finished painting up on Instagram where it quickly collected thousands of likes.
But within days the artwork was vandalised.
The culprits remain unknown but are believed to be HTS-affiliated jihadis.
The image of Floyd’s face was erased and the slogan “our cause is more noble than this” was spray-painted in Arabic at the site.
HTS is a Sunni Islamist militant group regarded as one of the best-armed and most powerful factions in the ongoing Syrian civil war.
The group has been accused by both British and US intelligence sources as secretly operating as Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.
This isn’t the first example of a George Floyd artwork being vandalised by extremists.
In Dundee, Scotland, earlier this week, artist Symon Matheson was dismayed to discover the piece he painted on a wall in the city’s Hilton area had been daubed with white supremacist symbols.
Members of anti-fascist group Action Dundee did their best to repair the damage, and issued a statement which read: “Black lives matter. The defacing of the portrait of George Floyd was a deliberate act of hatred and ignorance.”
They continued: “We as a community should not tolerate racism in any form, especially from fascists.
“We will not let you spread your hate in our community.”
Neither of the murals have, as yet, been repainted by the original artists.