‘My career is over now’: Muslim artist fired for including religious references in X-Men comics
Indonesian man Adrian Syaf made explicit references to religious and political divisions in his country in issue one of X-Men: Gold, citing a verse of the Koran that urges Muslims not to trust Jews and Christians.
One of the controversial drawings showed X-Men character Colossus playing baseball while wearing a t-shirt with ‘QS 5:51’ emblazoned across his chest. Verse 5.51 in the Koran is commonly translated as "O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.”
While the references went over the heads of most readers, people in Indonesia immediately spotted the reference and highlighted it on social media.
The verse is currently being used as part of a protest against Basuki “Ahok” Purnama Tjahaja, the first Christian governor of Jakarta. In a speech, the governor claimed hardline Muslim leaders who oppose him had cited the verse in efforts to turn voters against him.
This sparked a huge backlash with at least 200,000 Muslims taking to the streets of Jakarta to protest on December 2, demanding that the state arrest and prosecute the governor for insulting Islam. Tjahaja is currently on trial with a verdict not due until after an upcoming election.
The numbers “212” also appeared in one of the comic’s panels, a reference to the December 2 protests. The same panel has also been labelled anti-Semitic as the character Kitty Pryde, who is of Jewish descent, is drawn standing in front of a jewellery shop with the word ‘Jew’ displayed prominently beside her head.
Syaf's Facebook profile features a character wearing a helmet with the 212 stamped on the front.
“Marvel has terminated Ardian Syaf’s contract effective immediately,” the company said in a statement to Comicbook.com. Syaf’s work will feature in works that have already been sent to the printer however it will be replaced in upcoming issues.
“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation,” Marvel said.
“My career is over now. It's the consequence what I did, and I take it,” Syaf said in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.
“Please no more mockery, debat [sic], no more hate… In this last chance, I want to tell you the true meaning of the numbers, 212 and QS 5:51. It is number of JUSTICE. It is number of LOVE. My love to Holy Qur'an... my love to the last prophet, the Messenger... my love to ALLAH, The One God."
Another Muslim comic artist offered a scathing rebuke of Syaf’s actions. “This is all to say that Ardian Syaf can keep his garbage philosophy,” G. Willow Wilson said. “He has committed career suicide; he will rapidly become irrelevant. But his nonsense will continue to affect the scant handful of Muslims who have managed to carve out careers in comics.”