Steve Jobs is most well-known for being a technology entrepreneur, visionary and inventor as well as the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple, Inc. What some may not know about Jobs is that his biological father, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali, was Muslim. His father was born and raised in Syria and grew up in a Muslim household, and later in life met Joanne Carole Schieble at the University of Wisconsin and the two began dating. According to the autobiographical book Steve Jobs, Schieble's father "threatened to cut Joanne off completely" if she continued to see him, due to his Muslim upbringing. Schieble became pregnant in 1954 but the two could not get married, and she chose to flee to San Francisco to have the baby, and chose a"Catholic, well-educated, and wealthy" adoptive couple to raise him.
Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. But, why is this important? This is the point that graffiti artist and political activist Banksy tried to drive home with his mural of Steve Jobs, painted at the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, France. The artist rarely ever gives a statement on his work, but this time he did. "We're often led to believe migration is a drain on the country's resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant. Apple is the world's most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs," the Guardian writes.
The mural portrays the late Steve Jobs in his trademark turtleneck and jeans, with one of his Apple computers in one hand and a black sack slung over his shoulder in the other. The message in this Steve Jobs mural is clear; it is meant to call attention to the reprehensible conditions of refugee camps all over the world. It illustrates that anyone who seeks to permanently ban refugees, the 60 million people escaping war or persecution from Syria, from entering their country could be robbing that country, or the entire world, of the next great mind like Steve Jobs, who was the biological son of a Syrian immigrant himself.
However, the mural has not only received praise, but also some criticism, as well. Some feel the Steve Jobs mural, though well-intentioned, could send the wrong message, or at least, create a partial narrative. Memphis Barker of The Independent explains in the following statement.
"Banksy's statement might have been more profound if it had been an anonymous refugee fixed to the wall. Possibly a Kurd, possibly a Gambian, possibly an Afghan or an Iraqi. That same gaze to hold your attention. The figure's anonymity itself would be a reproach: just another human being among the nameless mass, static, frozen, as stuck to Europe's conscience as it is to this wall. (Walls, of course, built in a hurry to stop people like me getting close to people like you.) It should not take a celebrity refugee to have us face the humanity of people sleeping outside in the winter (and funny how, after being repeated so many times, that word 'humanity' has worn thin). The West owes sanctuary to Syrians not because of what they might do for us, but because our governments can do so much for them."
[Image Courtesy of Banksy/banksy.co.uk]