This year’s unveiling of the anti-U.S. murals comes as tensions are once again heightened, more than one year after President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. U.S. officials have repeatedly accused Iran of trying to destabilize the region in recent months, including in June, when the United States blamed Iran for the attacks on several merchant ships in the Gulf of Oman.
The same month, Iran downed a U.S. surveillance drone. The incident appeared to be referenced in at least one of the murals, which showed the shoot-down of a RQ-4A Global Hawk U.S. drone.
One mural depicted the Statue of Liberty with an arm cut off.
Some murals showed skulls, the silhouettes of shooters, bullets, hypodermic needles and pills — apparent references to the United States’ high rate of gun violence and the opioid epidemic.
Murals have a long history in Tehran, and even though the country makes regular headlines with its anti-U.S. paintings, a new generation of Iranian artists has in recent years focused on more apolitical themes, with a wide range of subjects.
The generational shift may have implications for the perception of anti-U.S. murals, too, researchers have argued.
“The younger generation in particular, appears to be completely oblivious to the city’s revolutionary iconography,” researchers Houchang Esfandiar Chehabi and Fotini Christia wrote in a 2008 paper.
“Some indeed find the themes of the political murals, those of martyrdom, anti-Americanism, and the Islamic revolution dated, deeming them an anachronistic medium of persuasion and deception,” they concluded.