Ilhan Omar: Birmingham mural is an act of 'solidarity'

Written by on July 23, 2019

A mural painted on the side of a Birmingham takeaway has got the attention of US congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

And the reason – the piece of art is based on her.

Street artist Mohammed ‘Aerosol’ Ali wants it to be a sign of “solidarity” with the American politician.

That’s because Ilhan is one of four congresswomen of colour involved in a row with Donald Trump over his comments for them to “go home”.

The retweet of his murals by Ilhan, who was born in Somalia, has helped spread Mohammed’s work to thousands of people.

“Who would imagine that just a spray can on a brick wall in an inner-city part of Birmingham can have impact around the globe,” he says.

“There’s been such positive responses from people of all backgrounds, all faiths, people who say, ‘I stand with Ilhan’, and can see the injustice of how a young woman has been attacked in this way.”

The wall where Mohammed painted the mural sits in the heart of one of Birmingham’s large Muslim communities.

“Those in hijab are perhaps seen as oppressed or not liberated. This shows that Ilhan and many others that look like her absolutely are empowered.”

And by using Ilhan as “a strong image of somebody who spoke out in the face of bigotry and hatred” he hopes others will be inspired.

Even though Ilhan plays a part in politics on the other side of the world, Mohammed says there’s a reason why British people can relate to her.

“Ilhan’s a strong woman on the other side of an ocean who can connect with people in the streets of Birmingham, London, Manchester or any other city.

“The comments she had to put up with, the hatred she has to deal with, this is something that affects each and every one of us in a way. This is a reflection of our realities as well.”

He wants people who walk past the mural to see it as an “act of solidarity against a woman who had the power to confront power full on”.

It’s just one of several pieces Mohammed has painted around the world.

He wants all of his murals to address issues faced by multicultural communities and to “tell the story of everyday people in public spaces”.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Birmingham and Black Country


Cannock Chase Radio FM

The Greatest Hits And So Much More!

Current track