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Social Media Users Make False Claims About the Work of a Syrian Artist
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Social Media Users Make False Claims About the Work of a Syrian Artist

The image is from 2012 and has gone viral several times previously.

(Image from Facebook)

An image depicting a re-creation of the Statue of Liberty using debris from the Syrian civil war has gone viral again on social media. “A Syrian artist built this with the ruins of his house. With the slogan: ‘This is the Freedom they brought us,’” reads one post with more than 30,000 likes.

This post is misleading. While the image was created by a Syrian artist, it was produced digitally using photographs and did not feature the attributed slogan.

The original image was created by Tammam Azzam, a Syrian artist specializing in acrylic, mixed media, and collage artwork. Azzam first posted the image, titled “Statue of Liberty,” on his Facebook page on September 8, 2012, noting in the caption that it was a photo montage—meaning a collage constructed from photographs.

Since its original creation in 2012, the image has gone viral on multiple occasions, including in 2016, 2017, and 2023. Many of these reposts have implied that the artwork’s message was targeted toward America. Azzam, however, has denounced this interpretation. In a 2016 interview with Al Arabiya, a Saudi state-owned media organization, Azzam explained that his artwork had been widely misinterpreted and was not intended to send a message to the United States. “The Statue of Liberty in New York does not represent US politics and I used it only as the symbol of freedom,” Azzam told the outlet. “The piece at the time was carrying a message of optimism despite all of the destruction in Syria.” When Azzam first posted the image, his home country of Syria was a year and a half into a civil war that would kill hundreds of thousands and displace millions more.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.