Police shut down mosque installation at Venice church

23 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Church converted into mosque for Venice Biennale shut down.

MILAN: Venice officials have ordered the closure of a working mosque in an ex-church, set up as Iceland’s exhibit for the Venice Biennale contemporary art fair.A historic Catholic church that was converted into a mosque for Venice’s Biennale art fair will close down amid claims proper permissions hadn’t been sough to use the space as a place of worship A historic Catholic church that was converted into a mosque for Venice’s Biennale art fair has been ordered to close down by the city’s authorities. City officials declared the art project a ‘security hazard’ and said that the Swiss-Icelandic artist who created it, Christoph Buchel, had not obtained proper permits and had violated city laws by allowing too many people inside, The New York Times said in a dispatch from.

Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Buechel’s exhibit inside a former Roman Catholic Church creating the first mosque ever in the historic center of Venice sparked controversy from the outset. The organisers of the provocative “installation” said their intention had been to probe the boundaries of religious freedom and to highlight the controversy that has arisen over plans to build mosques in Western countries. Responding to the notification of closure, a local imam reportedly commented: ‘It is like throwing a match on a pile of hay,’ according to a dispatch in NEWSWEEK, a mass-circulation American weekly magazine. An artist from Switzerland, Christoph Buchel constructed a beautiful mosque within a deconsecrated church in the city of Venice, Italy recently on the occasion of the Biennale.

Iceland chose the deconsecrated Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia for the exhibit titled “The Mosque” in Venice, which for centuries served as a crossroads between East and West and is infused with Middle Eastern architectural influences. But even before the installation, called ‘The Mosque,’ opened for its first Friday Prayers on May 8, it upset Venetian city officials and police authorities, who warned that it posed a security threat because of possible violence either by anti-Islamic extremists or Islamic extremists. Since the opening, the report said, hundreds of Muslim residents of Venice and surrounding areas have visited to see or worship at the mosque, without incident.

It had been standing there in its splendor for the past 14 days but now a sign has been put outside that says that the entry to the exhibit is banned, according to TheArtNewspaper. It is fair to say that this goal has been achieved,” Björg Stefánsdóttir, the director of the Icelandic Art Centre, the institution behind the initiative, wrote in an open letter. The mosque had become “one of the most visited exhibitions outside of the main exhibition area of the Biennale,” despite being located in a part of Venice that was hard to find, he said. “It was an initiative aimed at tolerance but the reaction of the city was hardly balanced – this was a temporary mosque that was only meant to stay open for seven months,” said Mohamed Amin Al Ahdab, the leader of the Muslim community in Venice. This platform which was meant for the free display of artistic works of beauty with an implicit message had failed its contributors by this repressive act. The reason of existence of the mosque-in-a-church project was to bring to light the prejudice and intolerance of fundamentalists and fanatics in various religions.

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