London builders cover up Banksy's artwork that slams France for using tear gas on the refugee camp

AP and AFP, Monday 25 Jan 2016

New artwork by British artist Banksy opposite the French Embassy, in London, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 (Photo: AP)

A Banksy mural highlighting the use of tear gas by French police against migrants was quickly covered over on Monday after it appeared on a building opposite the French embassy in London.

The mural features the character Cosette from French author Victor Hugo's classic novel "Les Miserables", holding a French flag and crying as tear gas billows out of a canister below her.

A code which can be scanned with a smartphone appears at the bottom of the work, linking to a video of police using tear gas earlier this month in a migrant camp in the northern French port city of Calais which is home to some 4,500 migrants.

The famous British street artist, who has retained his anonymity, has created three works in Calais including one inside the "Jungle" camp showing Apple's late founder Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian immigrant to the United States, as a migrant.

His latest work was drawn on a board in the window of a shop which is being redeveloped in the London's upscale Knightsbridge area.

Earlier on Monday, builders tried to remove the work using crowbars as onlookers gathered round.

They later attached another large wooden board on top of it, using drills.

The property developer responsible for the building site said it was "protecting" the mural after the police said there had been an attempt to steal it overnight.

Banksy's works can be worth hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars).

It's not the street artist's first criticism of France. Last month, he tried to underscore the potential of migrants by depicting the late Steve Jobs — whose biological father was from Syria — carrying a black garbage bag and an early model of the Macintosh computer.

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