Now, painting at centre of brewing ‘insult to Islam’ controversy

Publika, Solaris Dutamas where a painting — part of the “ABC For The Middle-Age Middle Classes” installation — by Malaysian artist Anurendra Jegadeva, popularly known as J. Anu is currently being exhibited. — File pic
Publika, Solaris Dutamas where a painting — part of the “ABC For The Middle-Age Middle Classes” installation — by Malaysian artist Anurendra Jegadeva, popularly known as J. Anu is currently being exhibited. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — A painting, part of an exhibition to celebrate the 50th Malaysia Day this September 16, is the latest to be accused of “insulting Islam.”

The work by Malaysian artist Anurendra Jegadeva, popularly known as J. Anu, has come under intense scrutiny and criticism of some pro-Umno blogs.

The painting, part of the “ABC For The Middle-Age Middle Classes” installation, featured a mirrored inscription of the Arabic “basmala” that is part of the Islamic phrase commonly translated as “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

It shows the phrase “I is for IDIOT” in white typeface on top of the images of a chimpanzee riding a bicycle, a jet fighter pilot in front of the words “Mission Accomplished”, and a red-and-white-striped flag with a Jolly Roger skull-and-crossbones — commonly associated with pirates — on it.

“One of his paintings depicts an insulting message by saying ‘I is for IDIOT’ (as though saying Islam is for stupid people) and includes a mirrored ‘basmallah’ underneath — clearly revealing the ill intentions of the painter,” wrote blogger Abdul Karim Omar on his website, akarimomar.wordpress.com.

“Meanwhile, paintings for J and K, ‘J is for Jesus’ and ‘K is for Krishna’ have no elements of insult.”

Karim, who is secretary-general of the Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (PEMBELA), also wrote that he had lodged a police report over the painting at the Sentul police station yesterday.

Other bloggers have since seized on the report and begun spreading the allegation online.

“Why are Indians dissatisfaction with Islam? Do they not realise the kindness of Muslim Malays allowed their ancestors to make a living here?” one blogger wrote on puteramariam.blogspot.com

It is learned that the police came to the exhibition at Publika, Solaris Dutamas here earlier this afternoon to speak to the artist and take photographs of the “offensive” painting.

News portal Malaysiakini today reported a curator with the exhibition, Nani Kahar, as saying police also removed the painting in question.

The others in the installation of 26 in total have since been taken down from the exhibition.

* This updated report replaces an earlier version that contained factual errors.

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