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Stockholm Artists Protest Obama by Putting Guantanamo Hoods on Statues

Street artists decry the "hypocrisy" of the President's plea for military action in Syria.

When President Obama arrived in Stockholm yesterday ahead of the G20 economic summit in Russia, he used the opportunity to pitch the Swedish government on military action in Syria.

But certain Swedes weren't going to let him forget another thorny issue closer to home – that water-locked limbo for alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Several sculptures around Stockholm received a disquieting makeover from stealthy protestors who tied orange bags around their heads. Those hoods of course would be the favored (well, mandatory) dome-toppers for detainees at Guantanamo, as shown in this 2002 photo from the facility's Camp X-Ray:

(Frankie Roberto / Wikipedia)

At least eight or nine sculptures got the hood treatment from "artists and activists," according to this photo round-up at Street Art Utopia, where commenters have jumped on the supposed hypocrisy of Obama advocating a military intervention in Syria. The bags are a "[c]ommentary on how a Nobel Peace Prize Winner can talk about bombing foreign countries to stop them violating the Geneva convention," writes one, "while we torture/interrogate whoever suits us in Guantanamo Bay."

Indeed, a Swedish reporter confronted the U.S. president about this issue at a press conference Wednesday. According to The Blaze, Obama responded that when "when I see 400 children subjected to gas, over 1,400 civilians dying senselessly in an environment where you already have tens of thousands killed... the moral thing to do is not to stand by and do nothing."

"Nothing" is also a fine descriptor for what the U.S. is doing right now with the 160-plus detainees at Guantanamo, many of whom the government has deemed "too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution." Here are their bronze surrogates in Stockholm:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.