Europe

German mural of dead Syrian boy Alan Kurdi vandalised

Vandalised mural of Alan Kurdi, Frankfurt, 22 Jun 16 Image copyright AFP

Vandals in Germany have daubed the slogan "Borders save lives!" on a giant mural of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian three-year-old refugee whose death at sea drew worldwide sympathy last September.

Police suspect far-right activists of defacing the mural, completed in March in Frankfurt's central Osthafen area, near the European Central Bank.

Many Syrians were among the record 1.1m migrants taken in by Germany in 2015.

A photo of Alan Kurdi lying dead on a Turkish beach symbolised the crisis.

The giant Frankfurt mural, by artists Oguz Sen und Justus Becker, was painted as a criticism of the EU's migrant policy.

Police have asked witnesses to come forward, as they try to find out who vandalised the artwork, measuring 20m x 6m (66ft x 20ft).

Chancellor Angela Merkel's offer to house Syrian refugees triggered a backlash from nationalists, including regular "anti-Islamisation" marches by Pegida. But many Germans also shared her sympathy for the refugees.

Balkan countries on the main migrant route to Germany erected fences to stem the influx. And under a deal reached in March with the EU, Turkey is taking back migrants who sailed to Greece from its shores, hoping to settle in the EU.

In March a court in Turkey sentenced two Syrians to four years in jail over the death of Alan Kurdi and four others.

Alan's five-year-old brother Galib and his mother Rihan also drowned when the boat they were on sank during an attempted crossing to the Greek island of Kos.

The father, Abdullah, survived. He now lives in Iraq.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Alan Kurdi (L) drowned trying to make a sea crossing, alongside his brother Galib (R) and their mother

The story of Alan Kurdi's family

Why Alan Kurdi's picture cut through

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.