October 20, 2012 By

Islamic Gallery at Louvre: Good, Bad and Ugly Islams

“There is a distance between what was the Muslim civilisation, the Islamic civilisation, and its contribution to world history and what is happening now,” says Sophie Makariou, the director of the Islamic Art Department, in the context of France’s famous Louvre gallery opening a new wing dedicated to the art of Islam. The Islamic wing was inaugurated by French President Franciose Hollande who signalled by the very act his desire for engagement with Islamic and Arab people. This is in contrast to the image of belligerence showcased by his predecessor Nicholas Sarkozy.
What more beautiful message than the one delivered here, by the arts, in the Louvre,” the French president said, adding, “Because with this profusion of works, before so much patience devoted to harmony, we understand that the best weapons to fight fanaticism which claims to be Islamic can be found within Islam itself.”
The gallery’s largest single donor is Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who has contributed $21 million. The prince commented: “After 9/11 events, all Arabs and Muslims have a duty and responsibility to do as much as they can to tell the West about real Muslims, about real Islam and how peaceful our religion is.”
“So we accepted that, and today we have this Islamic centre now functioning. And hopefully many visitors that come here will see our culture, our heritage, and begin to understand how peaceful our religion is and is not represented by these violent demonstrations that are meaningless and don’t make sense at all,” the prince said.
The opening of the new wing at the gallery echoed anger and frustration over the film Innocence of Muslim against which the Louvre’s good gesture was contrasted. “Really, if you look at this amateurish movie really, it’s not worth to dignify it by even talking about it, let alone to demonstrate against it,” the prine said.
There are, however, different opinions on the Louvre gesture. Writer Mawan Muhammad said: “But for a typical person living in this area, they are not even aware that there is an Islamic gallery. And what’s the point of going to the gallery if I don’t have a job?” he said.
When we put the apologetic tone of the Saudi Prince and the French President’s Islam- basing undertones in perspective, Marwan’s opinion seems to hold much water. Still, the event is remarkable, especially because the famed gallery has now filled a gigantic gap in its contents.
Source: ABC News

Posted in: Art