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Maldives marine artwork destroyed for being a ‘threat to Islamic unity’

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The problem with the Coralarium was that it depicted human figures, which is prohibited in Islam. Blowing yourself up in a crowd of infidels, beating your wife, inciting genocidal Jew-hatred — these things are not prohibited in Islam. But if you create the wrong kind of artwork, it will be denounced as a “threat to Islamic unity,” and summarily destroyed.

“Maldives marine artwork destroyed for being a ‘threat to Islamic unity,'” by Antonia Wilson, Guardian, September 24, 2018 (thanks to Lookmann):

A new sculptural work, Coralarium, created by artist and environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor, was demolished last week after it was deemed anti-Islamic. The semi-submerged artwork was criticised by religious leaders and scholars in the Maldives, where Islam is the official religion. The depiction of human figures in art is discouraged under Islamic law.

The government ordered the destruction of the artwork, after a court ruled it to be a threat to “Islamic unity and the peace and interests of the Maldivian state”, the Maldives Independent reported, despite the authorities previously granting permission.

The project by DeCaires Taylor, who is known for his underwater sculptures and galleries around the world, was commissioned by the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort, owned by the Accor hotel group, as an “intertidal gallery”, and was completed in July. The large steel frame with cutouts aiming to mimic the marine world was intended to allow sea life to explore freely within, acting as a new habitat for coral and other species. Thirty human figures were positioned on top and inside the frame at tidal level, with others submerged beneath. The sculptures were based on life-casts of people, around half of them Maldivian, with some reimagined as hybrid forms including coral or root-like elements.

Nine months in the making, its creation involved a large teamof [sic] marine engineers, steel fabricators, divers and mould-makers. Specialist materials included pH-neutral steel, which is safe for use in a marine environment. Changing according to light and tides, the artwork was open to resort guests and day visitors.

However, on 21 September the work was destroyed under court order with pickaxes, saws and ropes.

“On Friday last week I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue,” deCaires Taylor said. “The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else! The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population, but it was a sad day for art and a sad day for the environment.”

Soon after it was installed, a statement was released by the president’s office, stating that “due to significant public sentiment against the installation”, the ministry of tourism would facilitate the removal of the sculptures. Although the English statement describes the work as “sculptures”, the Maldivian uses the word “budhu”, which means idol, the worship of which is considered a sin in Islam….

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