“They were very aggressive and shouted at an employee that the poster should be taken down otherwise they would throw stones and use violence.”
By Madeline Chambers for Reuters (thanks to all who sent this in):
BERLIN (Reuters) – A Berlin gallery has temporarily closed an exhibition of satirical works by a group of Danish artists after six Muslim youths threatened violence unless one of the posters depicting the Kaaba shrine in Mecca was removed, it said on Thursday.
The Galerie Nord in central Berlin said it had closed its “Zionist Occupied Government” show of works by Surrend, a group of artists who say they poke fun at powerful people and ideological conflicts.
On Tuesday, four days after the exhibition opened, a group of angry Muslims stormed into the gallery, shouting demands that one of the 21 posters should be removed, said the gallery.
“They were very aggressive and shouted at an employee that the poster should be taken down otherwise they would throw stones and use violence,” the gallery’s artistic director Ralf Hartmann told Reuters.
The Muslims objected to a depiction of the Kaaba — the ancient shrine in Mecca’s Grand Mosque which Muslims face to say their prayers — which gave a “bitingly satirical commentary against radicalism,” said the gallery in a statement.
Hartmann said the gallery was working with German authorities to improve security and he hoped to re-open the show as soon as possible.
“It would be unacceptable if individual social groups were in a position to exercise censorship over art and the freedom of expression,” said the gallery in a statement.
Yes, it would!
UPDATE: A friend sends me this important point: “The key point here–which you are always warning about, as in the story on Front Page–is the expansion of demands. There is now a demand that no picture of Muhammad be shown. Now this is a COMPLETELY NEW demand and one even less grounded in Islam: that the Kaaba not be shown. No doubt more will be added in future. A point worth making, this isn’t just a demonstration against an art exhibit but an additional demand never heard before.”