‘Statue of Liberty’ image was created using Photoshop, not ruins from the artist’s home

CLAIM: An image shows a sculpture resembling the Statue of Liberty, built by a Syrian artist out of the ruins of his house. “This is the freedom they brought us,” states a slogan associated with the image.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The image is a digital photomontage by Tammam Azzam, a Syrian artist now based in Berlin. Azzam told The Associated Press that he created the image in 2012 using Photoshop to combine fragments of photographs showing destroyed buildings in Syria. He said it represents freedom sought by the Syrian people.

THE FACTS: Social media posts are giving new life to yearsold claims that misrepresent the image using erroneous details about its origin and meaning.

“This was built by a Syrian artist from the ruins of his house,” reads one X post that included the image and had received approximately 32,000 likes and more than 11,200 shares as of Tuesday. “With the slogan: ‘This is the freedom they brought us.’”

Others shared similar posts along with the Palestinian flag emoji, appearing to compare the impact of the Israel-Hamas war on Palestinians to the ongoing civil war in Syria. One such Facebook post had received more than 9,700 reactions and 3,600 shares.

But the image, titled “Statue of Liberty,” was created digitally and has nothing to do with the supposed slogan spreading online.

“I created the image using Photoshop by scanning and piecing together various fragments of photographs of destroyed buildings in Syria,” Azzam told The Associated Press in an email. “Regarding the misrepresentation, it is unfortunate that the image has been falsely attributed to a specific narrative. It was not built from the ruins of any house, nor does it carry the slogan attributed to it.”

The photomontage “was intended to comment on the themes of freedom and oppression,” according to Azzam. He said he created it in 2012 “as a symbol of the freedom that the Syrian people have sought and continue to seek in a country that has been devastated by the regime’s response to their demonstrations.”

Azzam posted the image on his Facebook account as part of what he described as a “broader series” he worked on while living in Dubai. He wrote that it “was not printed or exhibited in a gallery or similar venue, though it has been widely shared and discussed online.”

Syria’s civil war, now in its 14th year, has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million. It began with peaceful protests against the government of President Bashar Assad in March 2011, part of the Arab Spring popular uprisings that spread across the Middle East that year.
This is part of the AP’s effort to address widely shared false and misleading information that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

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