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Jeremy Corbyn says he backed antisemitic mural on ‘grounds of freedom of speech’

Controversial artwork depicted a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he backed the painting of a mural containing antisemitic imagery on the grounds of free speech.

The graphic, Freedom for Humanity, was painted on a property near Brick Lane in London’s East End by renowned international graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One, in 2012.

It depicted a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money. The artwork was painted on the end wall of a private property, but was removed by local authorities after complaints from residents .

At the time Mr Corbyn offered support to Mr Ockerman.

When the artist wrote on Facebook that the mural was to be removed, Mr Corbyn responded with a message from his personal Facebook account.

He wrote: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

Mr Corbyn did not respond to request from the JC to explain his comments when they became public in 2015.

Today, a spokesperson for the Labour leader said: "In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech.

“However, the mural was offensive, used antisemitic imagery, which has no place in our society, and it is right that it was removed."

Mr Ockerman’s Freedom for Humanity was criticised by Lutfur Rahman, the controversial Tower Hamlets mayor at the time.

He said he was concerned the work could be interpreted as offensive to Jews because “the images of the bankers perpetuate antisemitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions”.

 

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