Banksy is back in Calais with a little message about refugees

Published December 13th, 2015 - 08:00 GMT
The famed street artist seems to show up with reminders just when we need them, this time a piece showed up in Calais.  (AFP/File)
The famed street artist seems to show up with reminders just when we need them, this time a piece showed up in Calais. (AFP/File)

As reporters and lawmakers held their breath for the outcome of the Paris Climate talks this weekend, something else was taking shape elsewhere in France.

On a wall in the chaotic refugee camp in northern port city of Calais, famed UK graffiti artist Banksy had been busy painting a life-size image of Steve Jobs, the late-founder of Apple, hunched with a rucksack over his shoulder and early model Apple computer clutched in his hand. 

Calais' refugee camp houses some 6,000 asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa trying to hop onto lorries, trains or walking through the tunnel to reach Britain. 

Like a lot of Banksy's work, the piece there was simple, but the message was pretty clear—the son of a Syrian migrant, the man behind arguably the most successful tech companies in the world has origins not so far from the ones most of the world is scrutinizing right now.

Here's the piece. 

In a rare public address, the artist said the new piece was just a friendly reminder that your favorite new iPhone and the company that spawned it only exist because US immigration policies shined favorably, long ago, on a man from Homs, Syria. 

"Apple is the world's most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes - and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs," the artist told British media in a statement. "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,"

Following its erection, French authorities in the port city said plans were afoot to protect the piece with a glass barrier along with two other Banksy works elsewhere in the city.

Especially this week, on the heels of HONY's story of another Syrian scientist-turned-refugee looking at resettlement in the US, the graffiti is a welcome nudge to step away from Donald Trump—and Ben Carson, Marine Le Pen et al—back to the reality that Syrians had lives and successes before conflict made them refugees. 

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