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10 May, 2019 09:55

Compromise or censorship? London gallery covers artwork after blasphemy complaints

Compromise or censorship? London gallery covers artwork after blasphemy complaints

London’s Saatchi Gallery covered two paintings which showed the text of shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam, after complaints from Muslim visitors. RT UK guests debate over whether it was the right call.

The artist SKU used the holy Arabic text, which professes belief in God and acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet, in two works, both of which allude to the design of the US national flag and one also shows a nude woman. Some visitors complained about the pieces and called for their removal, but the gallery refused. SKU suggested a compromise solution: keep his work on display but cover them with sheets.

RT hosted a debate between Muslim rights campaigner Salman Butt and Andre Walker, a columnist at the New York Observer, on whether the situation was resolved properly. Butt says framing the situation in terms of blasphemy laws would be wrong.

“A group of people said: ‘We think you should take this down.’ Another group of peoples said: ‘No, you shouldn’t take this down.’ They came to what they believe to be a compromise,” he said.

“If you don’t like this picture, you can join me in not going to that gallery. What they’ve actually said is: ‘We don’t like this picture, therefore you can’t look at it either,’” Walker parried. “This is not a compromise.”

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