What would world leaders look like as refugees? One artist has the answer

From US President Trump depicted as a refugee carrying a child in his arms to PM Netanyahu standing in line for food rations, one Syrian artist shows world leaders from a different viewpoint.

June 14, 2017 15:15
1 minute read.
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World leaders including Netanyahu and Abbas flank French Presdient Francois Hollande at Paris solidarity rally. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Abdalla Al Omari, a Syrian artist who resides in Belgium as a refugee, asked himself what world leaders would look like had they gone through the refugee experience themselves.

So he let his imagination run free, crafting stirring creations that depict prime ministers and government officials from across the world as displaced people in a strong statement on the Western world's apparent lack of empathy in the face of the ever-deepening refugee crisis.

Among the leaders Al Omari painted in his "Vulnerability Series" are US President Donald Trump (who has been bashed for his treatment of refugees following his campaign in favor of the travel ban targeting residents of Muslim-majority countries), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, former US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

All four leaders aforementioned can be seen in one particularly strong painting titled "The Queue," in which they are portrayed as refugees standing in line waiting for food.
Speaking to CNN, Al Omari explained that his purpose was not to lash out at world leaders but rather to show them in a more humane light, saying that he wanted to "give them back their humanity."

Al Omari also said that while he started out his project from an angry standpoint, he grew to form a more balanced opinion. "Somehow my aim shifted from an expression of anger that I had... to a more vivid desire to disarm my figures, to picture them outside their positions of power."

The artist also said that his surprising artworks have been received warmly for the most part. He expressed his hope that people would find them thought provoking and not merely provocative or aggravating. "People are sometimes too fond of their politicians," he said. "They cannot see them fall off their thrones. They cannot see them weak."

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