Afghan Artists Painting Mural of George Floyd and Iranian Flag

Artists in Kabul painted a mural of George Floyd on a blast wall, joining protests against racial injustice and police brutality that have spread around the world since the black man died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

The group behind the painting is ArtLords, a group of which views art as a tool for social change. They are known for painting murals with messages of peace and social justice on concrete blast walls in the Afghan capital that were erected to ward off militant bombs.

“George Floyd is a global figure now, and he was killed in the United States because of the blackness of his skin,” said artist Mehr Aqa Sultani, who started the group four years ago. “We want to say no to discrimination because discrimination has no benefit for us.”

The mural was created on Tuesday (June 9), the day of Floyd’s funeral.

Kabul resident Dost Muhanmad Momand said it was painful to watch the video of Floyd.

“When the helpless man wanted to escape death, the police did not release him and caused his death. I also live in a country that has witnessed war for forty years, a war in which discrimination is used,” he said.

ArtLords also painted an Iranian flag next to Floyd, in reference to an incident widely viewed in Afghanistan on social media of a car carrying refugees being set ablaze in Iran. The viral video has stoked public anger. Afghanistan’s foreign ministry has said the video which showed a burnt boy escaping from the car begging for water is genuine, although local Iranian officials have denied the police were responsible. The video appeared just weeks after Afghan officials accused Iranian border guards of drowning migrants.

Afghans have for decades sought refuge in Iran from war and poverty in their homeland. Iran says 2.5 million Afghans, both legal and documented live there.

(Production: Aziz Mohammad, Hameed Farzad)