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Iraqi artist protests Trump ban with graffiti

Last Updated Feb 4, 2017 at 2:40 pm EST

BASRA, Iraq – An Iraqi graffiti artist has taken to the streets of the southern city of Basra to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from seven Muslim-Majority countries. The ban was blocked Friday by a U.S. federal judge and while Trump denounced the judge and vowed to overturn the ruling, his government has so far complied.

In the centre of the port city, Arkan al-Bahadli spray painted three large, bright murals. The pictures depict Trump as a bull attacking the Statue of Liberty, coils of barbed wires surrounding an American flag and the new U.S. president’s face superimposed on a skull and bones.

“My message to Trump is that Iraqis are not terrorists,” al-Bahadli told The Associated Press, “I hope he will please reconsider his decision.”

From the front lines in Mosul where U.S. forces are supporting the fight against the Islamic State group, to the capital Baghdad, many Iraqis say they are shocked and insulted by the move. Iraq is a U.S. ally and was described by the previous U.S. administration as a key partner in the fight against IS.

Last week Iraq’s parliament called for reciprocity measures that would ban Americans from entering Iraq. The move was non-binding and largely symbolic, but it increased public pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has struggled to balance his alliances with both Iran and the U.S. Iran is one of the countries affected by the ban.

Al-Bahadli said he’ll continue to paint until his message is received by the U.S. administration and the new U.S. president.

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Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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