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New Banksy Mural Lampoons 'Les Miserables' for Refugees

The street art activist references the iconic play in criticism of French authorities teargassing and bulldozing refugee camps in Calais.

by Beckett Mufson
Jan 25 2016, 3:15pm

Banksy

A new Banksy mural critiques French authorities tear gassing 'The Jungle,' an unfond nickname for the refugee camps in the port city of Calais. Channeling an unmistakable French symbol of injustice and defiance, the cover of Les Miserables, Banksy depicts a child with eyes streaming due to a nearby tear gas cannister, tattered French flag rippling in the background. To drive the idea home, the mural is positioned across from the French Embassy in London's Knightsbridge district. A QR code in the corner leads to a disturbing video labeled, "Calais Jungle police assaults (5th and 6th of January)," apparently gathered by Calais Migrant Solidarity. If you don't want to download a QR reader, watch the video here.

"When it comes to human rights, when it comes to democracy that's all for Europeans, that's not for refugees," a Calais refugee named Mohammad told VICE News three days before French police bulldozed over 2,000 refugees' homes in The Jungle. "People know the French government doesn't really care about people, if they cared they wouldn't come [to us] like that."

This work follows a string of Banksy pieces that address the worldwide refugee crisis. In December, he made a mural pointing out that Apple founder Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian immigrant, a recreation of Théodore Géricault’s Raft of The Medusa stuffed with refugees, and a young boy gazing toward the UK from a Calais beach through a telescope with a vulture roosting on top. In a statement, Banksy explains "We're often led to believe migration is a drain on the country's resources, but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world's most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion a year in taxes—and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs."

Keep up with Banksy's most recent work on his website.

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