Street artist Combo was physically assaulted in eastern Paris on Saturday after refusing to take down one of his artworks, French newspaper Le Monde reported.
On a wall in the Porte Dorée neighbourhood, the 28-year-old put up a picture of himself wearing a djellaba (a full bodied outer robe common in Arabic-speaking countries) and then painted the word “co-exist” next to it, replacing the “c” with the Islamic crescent, the “x” with the Star of David, and the “t” with the Christian cross.
Four men approached the artist and insulted him, demanding that he remove the painting. The artist wrote on his Facebook page that when he refused to comply, all four of them beat him up severely, leaving him with a dislocated shoulder and bruises.
"I am deliberately being vague about the description of these cowards and where it all happened," his post read. "To me, it doesn't matter where they come from, what colour their skin is, what their religion or their political ideas are. In this context, all they represent is stupidity and ignorance."
Combo started out as a graffiti artist in southern France and currently works mostly with wheat paste and prints, which he displays in cities all over the world.
He attracted the attention of international media after entering the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine and putting up advertisements promoting the nuclear industry a year after the Fukushima disaster.
In December 2012 he collaborated with other artists in a pop-up installation in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris to commemorate the deaths of homeless people, and in early 2013 he decorated the walls of Hong Kong with Google pages censored by the Communist Party.
“My work is meant to be disruptive,” he told Le Monde. “The pieces surprise you. You find them where they shouldn’t be.”