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Israel: Protesters clash with police, demand removal of ‘McJesus’ artwork

16 January 2019
Religious protesters are demanding the removal of an artwork depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald at the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel.
McJesus by Jani Leinonen / Zetterberg Gallery Facebook

 

A sculpture depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald on display at the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel has sparked violent protests that left three police officers injured on 11 January 2019, reported The Times of Israel.

Arab Christian demonstrators calling for the McJesus artwork to be removed tried to force their way into the museum, with some allegedly throwing rocks at police officers who used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. A Molotov cocktail was reportedly thrown at the museum a day earlier.

The artwork, by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, has been on display since August 2018 as part of the Sacred Goods exhibition.

Leinonen told The Jerusalem Post he never wanted the artwork displayed there and had previously asked the curator to remove it from the exhibition.

“I joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, that upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” he said.

“Israel overtly uses culture as a form of propaganda to whitewash or justify its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people.

“Therefore I do not wish to be part of this exhibition and I asked the museum to take my artwork off the exhibition.”

McJesus is on loan from a gallery in Finland, The Jerusalem Post said.

The Haifa Museum of Art has so far refused to remove McJesus on the grounds of freedom of expression, according to Al Jazeera.

That sentiment was backed by Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber, who told Culture Minister Miri Regev she doesn’t have authority to cut state funding to the museum over the issue or demand the museum remove McJesus, Haaretz reported on 16 January.

Church representatives have taken the matter to the District Court, requesting the removal of three artworks, including McJesus, which they allege depict Jesus and Mary as commercial objects, Haaretz reported.

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