Enraged Israeli Arab Christians Protest Museum Crucified Ronald McDonald Display

Eric Norris is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The museum has agreed to install a cautionary sign next to the sculpture.

The Israeli city of Haifa witnessed violent protests when Arab Christian demonstrators fought police on January 11 to protest against a Ronald McDonald sculpture in Haifa Museum of Art . Ronald McDonald is corporate mascot of one of the world’s biggest fast food chains, McDonald’s. The clown is nailed to a cross, like Jesus Christ. The protesters have asked the artwork to be removed as they deemed it to be offensive.

One protester hurled a Molotov cocktail at the museum. The crucified McDonald’s mascot was the brainchild of Jani Leinonen, a Finnish artist. It is one of multiple displays in the Haifa Museum’s “Sacred Goods” exhibit. Among the many who termed the sculpture as an offense towards Christians is Theophilos III, Jerusalem's Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. According to Haifa police, a large number of protestors tried to forcefully enter the Haifa Museum of Art at the time of the demonstration. The violence was so extreme that three police officers were injured when protesters hurled rocks at them. The police immediately opened an investigation to identify those involved. One Haifa city resident was arrested on suspicion of intentionally attacking officers. Law enforcement cameras positioned near the demonstration showed the huge number of scuffles as police used stun grenades and tear gas canisters to clear protesters.

According to protesters, the Israeli Government is dragging its feet on the issue because Christians are a minority in the country. The police have brought in a Special Patrol Unit to protect the museum. The show in question also features a number of art pieces portraying Jesus. One of the exhibits of Christ was portraying the son of God as a “Ken” doll. There was also imagery from many other religions.

The Israeli political establishment was quick to get into the act. Miri Regev, the Israeli culture minister, sent Nissim Tal, the director of Haifa Museum, a letter requesting him to remove the sculpture. Regev wrote that depicting sacred religious symbols as part of an artistic project cannot be termed legitimate. The museum should not continue as a cultural institution which behaves like this. The minister reminded the museum authorities that the state funds the institution.

The Haifa museum agreed to meet church leaders and Haifa municipality officials and did so. The cultural institution consented to put up a sign which will be displayed prominently at the entrance explaining that the exhibits contain probable offensive content.

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