Is coexistence dangerous?
It was last week, for one artist in Paris.
A French street artist who goes by the name of “Combo,” said he was beaten up while standing next to a poster he put up in front of the Arab World Institute in the eastern part of the city. The poster showed the word “Coexist,” spelled, in part, by the symbols for the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. The son of a Lebanese Christian father and a Moroccan Muslim mother, he was wearing a long Arab robe.
It took place on a Saturday evening, Jan. 31, when a group of young men told him to take down the poster, before they pummeled him. He tried to defend himself. “Tired that I wasn’t giving up, they left me bleeding and ran off,” he wrote on his Facebook page, as translated by The Guardian. The attack left him with bruises and a dislocated shoulder.
“To me, it doesn’t matter where they come from, what color their skin is, what their religion or their political ideas are,” Combo wrote. “In this context, all they represent is stupidity and ignorance.”
In past years, he’s done similar political, stereotype-busting work — frequently upsetting local authorities — in China, Los Angeles, Chernobyl and Lebanon — where his poster said, “Less Hamas, More Hummus.”
“My work,” he wrote, “is meant to be disruptive.”