Last Friday the authorities in Berlin closed an exhibition showing posters by the Danish art group Surrend after angry Muslims had made their way into Gallery North in Berlin and threatened violence if one of the 21 posters wasn’t removed.
The poster shows the sacred stone of Mecca, the Kaaba, with the inscription Stupid Stone It’s part of an art project titled Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG) referring to the wide spread conspiracy theory saying that Zionists are in control of everything in the world from politics to economics. The exhibition carries two posters commenting on the Muslim World.
Let me add on a personal note: It’s widely believed in the Muslim world that I am Jewish and that the publication of the Muhammed cartoons was part of a conspiracy involving myself and Daniel Pipes. The imams driving the protests in Denmark against the cartoons are convinced that Jyllands-Posten is owned by Jewish interest.
None of this is actually true.
Says Jan Egesborg, the male half of the artistic duo Surrend:
”Zog is a theory that is very much alive in the Arab world.”
Commenting on the threat of violence he added to Der Spiegel on line:
”It was an explosive situation. We don’t want to be part of the current Islamophobic tendency in Europe. We weren’t trying to provoke Muslims.”
”We could not make good satirical art about the ZOG theme without making fun of radical Islam.”
Using the term ”Islamophobic” wasn’t smart. The word means fear of Islam, and to express dislike and fear of a set of ideas one don’t like or want to challenge has nothing to do with discrimination.
The exhibition that is scheduled to run until the end of March reopens tomorrow at 2 pm.
”We have just received information about the reopening and we are very happy,” said Jan Egesborg.
Earlier today he was furious. Contrary to promises by the authorities it wasn’t clear at all whether the exhibition would reopen.
”It’s a scandal and a huge defeat for artistic freedom in Germany and Europe. It sends the scary message that a mob of angry people has the power to close down an exhibition,” Surrend said.
In 2006 the Deutsche Oper in Berlin cancelled Mozart’s opera Idomeneo out of fear for protests against a scene showing the chopped off head of Muhammed side by side with heads of Jesus and Buddha.
Surrend has a record of satirical stunts directed at authoritarian leaders like Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
The Kaaba is the Black Stone, also called al-Hajar-ul-Aswad, which is believed by some Muslims to date back to the time of Adam and Eva. It is about 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter, is located on the Eastern corner of the Kaaba, and is surrounded by a silver frame. When Muslims come to Mecca to perform the Hajj, one of the tasks which they try to accomplish is to kiss the Black Stone, as Muhammad once kissed it. Tradition has it that the Black Stone was white when it came to earth, subsequently turning black under the burden of peoples’ sins. According to the Qur’an, the Kaaba was built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Ismail (Ishmael). Islamic traditions assert that the Kaaba “reflects” a house in heaven that was first built by the first man, Adam.
When Muhammad conquered Mecca, he destroyed the 360 idols around Kaaba which the Meccan pagans possessed. There was one god for each day of the year. While destroying each idol, Muhammad recited which says “Truth has arrived and falsehood has perished for falsehood is by its nature bound to perish.” Muhammad then entered the Kaaba and ordered all the pictures to be destroyed.