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Banksy Clashes with Home Secretary James Cleverly Over Glastonbury Artwork and Migrant Rescue Efforts

Banksy Takes Aim at Home Secretary James Cleverly

On Wednesday, the mysterious muralist Banksy responded to British Home Secretary James Cleverly’s criticism of his recent artwork, which featured an inflatable raft and appeared at the Glastonbury music festival last week. Cleverly had previously labeled the piece as “vile and unacceptable” during an appearance on Sky News. Banksy, in a sharp retort on Instagram, described the Home Secretary’s reaction as “a bit over the top.”

Rescue Efforts in the Mediterranean

Banksy highlighted the efforts of the MV Louise Michel, a rescue boat he funds, which recently rescued 17 unaccompanied children from the central Mediterranean. The Italian authorities have since detained the vessel, which Banksy condemned as “vile and unacceptable.” This criticism followed Cleverly’s claim that the artwork was a “celebration of loss of life in the Channel.”

Political Dodging and Criticism

When questioned about Banksy’s potential critique of the government’s handling of the migrant crisis, Cleverly avoided a direct response. Instead, he criticised the Labour Party, accusing them of hindering Conservative efforts to manage migrant inflows effectively.

M.V. Louise Michel| Courtesy of M.V. Louise Michel)

Rising Migrant Numbers

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford reported a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving in Great Britain via small boats. In the first half of 2024, 12,646 small boat arrivals were recorded, marking a 16 percent rise compared to the same period last year.

Tragic Incidents and Government Response

In May, three men were arrested and charged with the deaths of five migrants, including a 7-year-old girl, who were crushed while attempting to illegally enter the UK by boat. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attributed these perilous crossings to “criminal gangs exploiting vulnerable people” by overloading unseaworthy dinghies.

Migration at Glastonbury

Migration emerged as a major theme at this year’s Glastonbury festival, with an entire section named Terminal 1 dedicated to the topic. The festival provided a platform for artists and activists to highlight the ongoing migrant crisis.

The MV Louise Michel

Funded by Banksy through the sale of his artworks, the MV Louise Michel is a 98-foot former French Navy vessel engaged in search and rescue missions along the European coast. Launched in August 2019, the ship saved 350 people in its first week at sea. The Italian authorities recently seized the vessel following its attempt to rescue 37 migrants from the central Mediterranean.

Feature Image: A boy waves to the crew of the Astral rescue vessel from the deck of the Louise Michel rescue vessel, a French patrol boat currently manned by activists and funded by the renowned artist Banksy in the Central Mediterranean Sea, at 50 miles south from Lampedusa, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020| courtesy: Hindustan Times

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