An award-winning Birmingham artist has defended his controversial artwork after a pro-Gaza mural was removed from outside a city home.
Mohammed Ali, from Kings Heath, was the winner of a highly acclaimed South Bank Show Award recognising his contribution to social cohesion in January.
The 30-year-old created four murals in support of Palestinians following the Israeli bomb attacks that saw hundreds killed and seriously injured in Gaza last month.
Mr Ali said the murals, sprayed onto private walls in inner city areas, reflected the sentiment of many angered by the bombings. Large images of fiery skies, bombed buildings and captions reading, “Wiped off our TV screens but not from our hearts”, “Free Gaza”, “Free Palestine, 300 bodies and continuing”, were created in Sparkbrook, Small Heath and Alum Rock.
“I felt like never before people of Birmingham united in their masses we are not going to let innocent people die. This was proved in the demonstrations in the city where thousands of protesters voiced their concern over the treatment of Palestinians,” he said. “The murals were painted with the full consent of the buildings’ owners and received approval from people of all faiths.”
Mr Ali, famed for his use of aerosols to depict contemporary situations, was “upset and angered” by the decision to remove a mural in Alum Rock.
The family at the Reginald Road property claimed their 75-year-old mother was encouraged by police to have the mural removed.
Son Mohammad Azim said: “We were all happy with the finished work, it was not offensive and neighbours were taking pictures of it on mobile phones.”
The family said police officers and community support workers came to their home and spoke to their elderly mother.
“Mum doesn’t speak English very well but was scared by the fact the police were questioning her about the mural, so she said she didn’t like it. Then a community worker came a few days later and said our home was under threat of petrol bombs if we did not have it removed.”
A spokesperson for Arts Council England, who awarded Mr Ali with the prestigious diversity award, said: “The Arts Council supports artistic freedom and does not shy from controversial art.”