Graffiti artist unveils Islamic mural with Celtic twist

An award-winning artist’s eye-catching mural, which celebrates Scotland’s links with Islam, was unveiled on Friday 9th September 2011.

The artwork has been arranged by the College’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World.

Mohammed Ali’s mural, commissioned by the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the local Muslim community, will fuse Arabic calligraphy with urban graffiti on a wall beside the city’s Annandale Street Mosque.

It will mix Islamic patterns with Celtic design, feature Edinburgh castle, and contain both an Islamic and Scottish blessing.

Mohammed Ali - 'Aerosol Arabic'

Ali’s work has continuously sought to challenge the idea that the world of Islam and the West are locked in a clash of civilisations, which has a particular resonance following the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Ali, also known as Aerosol Arabic, describes himself as ‘an urban spiritual artist’. He has painted murals in major cities including New York, Chicago, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne and Dubai.

In 2009 he won a South Bank Show award for his artwork and his effort in bridging gaps between people of different faiths.

I’ve painted in great cities around the world where multiculturalism has flourished. Edinburgh is one of them. I am excited to contribute to its culture with this mural. At a time when multiculturalism is being debated and questioned in the UK, it is all the more important to find alternative ways to connect societies. Art can do that. One should never underestimate the power of art to improve and unite communities.

Mohammed Ali

Professor Hugh Goddard, director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, said:

At the tenth anniversary of the events of 11th September, when much of the world's attention will be focused on antagonism between the West and the World of Islam, it is excellent that Muhammad Ali will be producing a lasting testimony to a vision of a peaceful relationship between the two. His mural on Annandale Street is a powerful expression of this and a visual aspiration for all of Scotland.

Professor Hugh Goddard

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