Banksy’s graffiti diplomacy

A mural by political activist Banksy made a powerful critique on Europe’s handling of the Syrian refugee crisis when it appeared opposite the French Embassy in Knightsbridge.

The image, which went viral on Twitter, is of Cosette of Les Miserables with tears streaming down her face against a tricolour backdrop and a canister of teargas in the foreground.

The work includes a QR code which, when read by a smartphone, links the viewer to footage of a raid on ‘The Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais in which teargas was used.

The artwork (now boarded up) is the latest in the activist’s commentary on the refugee crisis. Last year Banksy painted a picture in Calais of Apple founder Steve Jobs as a migrant, with a supplementary explanation, which read: “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 $7bn a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”