A work titled “McJesus,” depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald, at an art museum in Haifa has brought angry calls from local Christians to remove it — a result the artist said he approves.
Last Friday, hundreds of Arab Christians demonstrated in front of the Haifa Museum of the Arts, demanding that it remove the artwork. Some protesters threw fire bombs and stones at the museum and attempted to enter the building to remove the sculpture. Three police officers who attempted to manage the crowd were injured.
The piece, by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, is part of an exhibition called “Sacred Goods,” which focuses on “the responses of contemporary artists to issues of religion and faith in the contemporary global reality, which is dominated by the consumer culture,” according to the museum’s website.
Leinonen demanded that his sculpture be removed from the exhibition because he supports boycotts against Israel, the Times of Israel reported.
The controversy has raised questions about the limits of artistic freedom in Israel, which prides itself on being both a democratically progressive country and the home to holy sites of three world religions.
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which represents the Roman Catholic church’s various rites in Israel and the West Bank, acknowledged that the exhibition “is aimed at criticizing the consumer society,” but the group called McJesus and some of the exhibition’s other artwork “an abuse” of “the greatest symbol of Christianity.” The assembly demanded that the Haifa municipality remove the “offensive exhibits.”
Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev, said she has received numerous complaints about a “grave insult to the Christian community’s sensibilities” and threatened to cut the museum’s funding if it did not remove “McJesus” and other controversial items from the exhibition.
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Source: Religion News Service