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Koran art exhibit pulled in France after near riot

AFP · 4 Oct 2012, 10:40

Published: 04 Oct 2012 10:40 GMT+02:00

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Mounir Fatmi said he was putting his work on hold until the exhibit could be shown properly -- without the chance of people walking on the verses -- at the "Printemps de Septembre" art festival in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

The exhibit was only meant to be shown at the weekend, with measures taken to ensure no one could set their feet on the ground as the verses from the Muslim holy book and other images were projected there.

But on Tuesday evening, with no preventative measures in place, the video was projected onto the busy bridge and quickly attracted the attention of locals who gathered to try and stop people walking over the verses.

Tensions rose when the demonstrators called in young people from the city's housing projects to help them, and erected barriers to keep pedestrians away.

One young woman was slapped for putting her foot on a verse.

Police sent in a riot squad but the situation was peacefully resolved -- and the demonstrators dispersed -- after an imam appeared on the scene and called for calm.

Relations between the French state and a Muslim community that has its roots in former colonies Algeria and Morocco have been strained in recent years by a string of controversies pitting their faith against France's secular tradition.

Tensions were heightened last month after a French satirical weekly published cartoons of a naked Prophet Muhammad.

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Artist Fatmi denied he had sought to provoke with the art work and said Tuesday's incident was the result of a misunderstanding.

"(As) the right conditions for displaying my work were not in place, and this damages... its ability to be understood, I prefer to suspend it," he said.

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Your comments about this article

2012-10-04 21:35:02 by Cromulent
Looks like I'm going to have to shoot a video of myself jumping up and down on a Quran.
2012-10-05 10:36:31 by heapologiatoutimotheou
Was it one of the many Quranic verses commanding all Muslims to kill and torture the infidels: the Christians, Jews, polytheists, atheists, and apostates? I'd trample that. And technically speaking, nobody was trampling anything except photons.
2012-10-05 18:48:47 by JacksDad
Oh dear, this is very bad news. Even fiercely secular France is starting to bow to the fear of Islamic protest and possible violence. Free speech all over the Western world is being crushed by worries over childish Islamic over-reaction.
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