EXPOSÉ: European Culture Grovels Before Islam

Fear is a potent factor in cancelling cultural programs that have any reference to Islam.

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Giulio Meotti

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When the Tate Gallery in London censored the work "God is great" by John Latham (because it showed the Koran), the art critic Richard Cork accused the British establishment of having sold out freedom of expression: "When you start thinking like that, the sky is the limit." Now a new limit has been established. 


Even a show about the stoning of women in Yemen has been canceled. You never know.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, the most famous and crowded museum in the English capital, first exhibited, then hid from the public a portrait of the Prophet of Islam, a work of devotional art depicting the image of Muhammad. The fear of exposing it follows the massacre at the French weekly Charlie Hebdo.

A reproduction of Mohammed was also removed from the online database of the Victoria and Albert Museum: "Since the museum is already a public building in safety alert, our team has decided to remove the image," said Olivia Colling, spokesman of the famous London institution.

And this litany of cowardice boasts other important cases. The British Library included an image of Muhammad in its exhibition of sacred icons, but with his face veiled.

Recently, the Edinburgh University Library celebrated the existence of a manuscript that contained many depictions of Muhammad, but none was shown in the exhibition.

The Hague Museum was planning an exhibit of photographs, including two masks of Muhammad and Ali. These were quickly withdrawn from the museum.

And the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has removed every work that contains images related to the Prophet from its galleries of Islamic Art. Egle Zygas, spokesman for the Met, explained it by claiming it was a "simple rotation of the exhibits, planned for some time." Maybe someone believes him.

After Charlie Hebdo, European culture chose self-censorship and bows, or shall we say grovels, before Islam. The wave of attacks in Paris pushed festivals, museums and theaters to remove works considered "sensitive".

The famous carnival in Cologne, Germany, will not show the wagon dedicated to Charlie Hebdo. "We do not want a wagon that would limit freedom and lightness", say the organizers of the event.

"You cannot laugh at everything," was the title of the new show in Paris by Patrick Timsit, named appropriately. The Roundabout Theatre denied the artist the space to perform, as the comedian would have to embrace a bomb. Even a show about the stoning of women in Yemen has been canceled. You never know. 

France has decided to "deprogram" freedom of speech on Islam. "We are all Charlie, but we are not all the Apostle," said the weekly Causeur. The reference is to "The Apôtre," the new film by Cheyenne Carron that has just been deprogrammed by some theatres "to prevent the risk of attacks." The reason given by the French authorities to remove the film from the movie theaters is that the Muslim community could "feel provoked" by the film that tells of a young French Muslim converted to Christianity. 

In France before Carron, nobody had ever brought to the big screen a story of conversion to Christianity from the religion of the Qur'an, the story of "apostates" who, in Islamic regimes, are hanged from cranes or burned alive. 

In the film, Carron puts scandalous questions  in the mouth of the protagonist, like, "Why do Christians accept their brothers who convert to Islam and Muslims can not accept those who are converted to Jesus?". 

"The Apostle" is not the only film to have been deleted from the French theaters after the attacks in Paris. "Timbuktu", the film by Abderrahmane Sissako, awarded at Cannes and nominated for an Oscar, has just been deprogrammed in Villers-sur-Marne by the decision of the mayor, Jacques-Alain Benisti. The film is a passionate appeal against jihadists, it shows all the horror in Mali, the birthplace of the wife of Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist at the kosher supermarket in Paris. Sissako's film was also overshadowed at the film festival of Ramdan, Belgium. "In order to move things forward, you must take risks," said the director Carron facing the censorship of her film. "You do not win wars with silence." 

Three days ago, the Musée Hergé in Louvain-la Neuve, dedicated to the creator of Tintin, was planning an exhibition to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists and freedom of expression. But the city's mayor, Jean-Luc Roland, and the curators of the museum decided that the show was not worth the risk and banned it.

In Welkenraedt, Belgium, another exhibition that included a panel dedicated to Charlie Hebdo was censored.

Terrorized and frightened, people in Europe are now paralyzed. And the élite are always the first to capitulate and to sell their own mother so as to be spared. A shameful illusion. Because the sky is lowering all over Europe. Dark days are awaiting us. 


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