Sunday, September 02, 2007

Who remembers the Mohammed cartoons?

From Sydney Morning Herald -
The head of Australia's Islamic Council believes a statue of the Virgin Mary shrouded in a burqa is not offensive, because it shows a key female figure of Islam in the modest fashion required of all Muslim women.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday described as "gratuitously offensive" the statue and another artwork depicting a holographic image of Osama bin Laden that morphed into an image of Jesus Christ.

The artworks were entries into the Blake Prize for religious art.

But Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Ikebal Patel said the statue was "not at all offensive", because both the Virgin Mary and Jesus were revered figures in Islam.

"So [Mary wearing a burqa is] no different to how our mothers and sisters are expected to be modest in their dressing," he said.

But Mr Patel said he was affronted by the image of bin Laden's face blending into that of Jesus, who is deemed a prophet in Islam.

"You have a revered prophet of Islam being equated to somebody like Osama bin Laden.

"Also in Islam, we don't have any paintings or drawings depicting any of our prophets, so I find it quite offensive."

The Anglican bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said he was surprised by offended reactions to the artwork.

"Christians are not about to go and kill people because someone did some cartoons - it's not the way we respond," he said.

He said the artwork comparing Jesus to bin Laden was "somewhat critical" rather than offensive.

"It raises questions about what they have got in common and how they are different - Jesus himself said there will be many false Christs that will arise," he said.

Christians ought to be cautious about "running to the press" to complain about being offended, he said.

"You need to limit the language of outrage to things that are really outrageous," he said.

"[Politicians] should get on with running the country. Even though they are Christian men it's not an area they should be commenting on."

Rod Pattenden, chairman of the Blake Society, which runs the Blake Prize, said controversy over the artworks was a "beat-up".

The competition "reflected on political, religious and contemporary issues" each year and the artworks have never been offensive, the Reverend Pattenden said.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, said: "As a person of faith and religious background I think it's important to reflect on the icons of our faiths.

"Unfortunately, some contemporary art is tedious and trivial. These couple of works demonstrate this.

"Regrettably, attempts to insult Jesus and Mary have become common in recent years, even predictable.

"Too often it seems that the only quality which makes something art is the adolescent desire to shock.

"If this is the best the Blake Prize can do, it has probably outlived its usefulness."

The Blake Prize was awarded last night to indigenous artist Shirley Purdie for her painting Stations of the Cross.

Strange perhaps that JH is one of those expressing offence. Mebbe something to do with impending elections and Closed Brethren?


T. F. Stern said...

"Christians ought to be cautious about "running to the press" to complain about being offended, he said.

"You need to limit the language of outrage to things that are really outrageous," he said."

Well said, I'd have to say that common sense and reason are often left at home when tempers flare.

The probligo said...

The biggest hoot - as I said in my original post - is John Howard. Like another well known national leader, no make that two others, he is well behind in the polls.

Dave said...

I have always held that people have a right to be offended by anything that they wish. They also have a right to espress that offense. No problem.

The problem is when being offended leads one to violence, the threat of violence, or using to power of the state to curtail free expressions. Those things I will always oppose.