At the back of a parking lot on Ste-Dominique lies a piece of art that is one part graffiti, one part calligraphy and one part hidden message.

While at first glance, the mural looks like an ancient script, it’s hard to pin down which one it is, exactly. And that’s the point, according to the piece’s creator, caligriffiti artist Karim Jabbari.

“I wanted this wall to look like a piece of an old scripture, like a lost paper,” he said. “People can see in it Arabic letter, people can see Roman numbers, people can see, like, I don’t know, old Egyptian scriptures.”

Hidden within the copper paint is the real meaning – a verse from a Tunisian poet, critical of those who are quick to judge others.

“He was putting himself in their place, saying ‘I would love to understand the universe,’” explained Jabbari. “Then he turns from the other side and answers, saying, ‘But sometimes I can’t understand myself.’”

Shirley Steinberg, a University of Calgary professor specializing in youth and Islamophobia, said she believes Montrealers should be proud of the mural’s message.   

“We have to be very mindful of the fact that just a few years ago there were hearings all over the province trying to ban something as simple as the hijab,” she said. “Now, we have the empowerment of a very important, well-known graphic artist.”

The mural was created as part of the annual Under Pressure graffiti festival and took Jabbari three days to complete. While it occupies space on the side wall of a mosque, Jabbari said that was unintentional.

The real purpose was to get across a message about the innate humanity of everyone.

“If you’re looking for me, you can find me beyond your hate,” he said.