PARIS (AP) — A state-funded museum in Paris is causing outrage among France’s Jewish community for staging a photo exhibition that calls Palestinian suicide bombers “martyrs.”
The exhibit, entitled “Death” by Palestinian photographer Ahlam Shibli, features dozens of intimate and often disturbing portraits of Palestinian suicide bombers with anti-Israeli captions that glorify their deaths.
Among the works at the Jeu de Paume museum are shots of suicide bombers from the controversial Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade — listed as a terrorist organization by European Union and the United States.
“This is unacceptable. You have the right to be shocked when an apology for terrorists is made in the heart of Paris,” said Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, France’s leading Jewish group.
“And to think this is a state-funded museum. There must be more vigilance. One minute France is fighting terrorists in Mali, and then celebrating the same ones here,” he added.
Cukierman wrote to France’s culture minister last week, in a letter protesting the display.
One photograph features a proud mother inside her house brandishing a photo of her son, a suicide bomber who killed 19 people in an attack on a bus in Jerusalem in 2002, according to Cukierman.
A caption on another photo says all the individuals it depicts are “martyrs” since they died “as a result of the Israeli occupation.”
The museum has strongly defended its decision to stage the exhibit, saying the captions do not represent the views of the museum, but are the words of the Shibli herself.
Several signs have been put up saying the captions were written by the artist, not the museum. But the government advised the museum to make it even clearer that the photo captions only reflect Shibli’s views.
The culture ministry defended the right of the museum to host the exhibit, but also said “it poses an important question: Where is the limit of freedoms to artistic expression?
A protest is planned at the museum on Sunday.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP