A sculpture depicting a crucified Ronald McDonald remains on display in Israel despite protests and calls for its removal from the country’s Arab Christian community.
The sculpture, named “McJesus,” was meant to be a critique of society’s capitalistic culture, Haifa Museum of Art officials told the Associated Press. The demonstrations began last week and came as a surprise to museum director Nissim Tal, who said the sculpture had been up for months and shown in other countries without incident, according to MSN.
The AP reports that the protests were sparked by scores of visitors to the museum sharing photos of “McJesus” on social media, upsetting many Arab Christians, who considered the sculpture insensitive to their religion. Tal told the Jerusalem Post that more than 30,000 people have viewed the exhibit featuring “McJesus” since opening night in August.
“This is very offensive, and I cannot consider this art,” Amir Ballan, an artist in Haifa and a Christian, told the AP. “We will continue through peaceful rallies and candle vigils. … We won’t be quiet until we reach a solution.”
But not all of the rallies have been peaceful, officials say. Israeli police said rioters threw a firebomb and stones toward the museum late last week, wounding three officers, according to the AP. Authorities responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Street signs spray-painted with crosses were still visible Monday as one protester held a sign reading, “Respect religions,” the AP reported. Some of the protests were also captured on social media.
Jani Leinonen, the Finnish artist behind “McJesus,” told the Jerusalem Post that the sculpture was displayed against his wishes. He said he wants it removed from the exhibit because he supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, better known as BDS. The Palestinian-led initiative calls for boycotting Israeli goods and services to pressure Israel to end its occupation.
Israel argues that BDS is anti-Semitic and undermines the nation’s right to exist, and it has banned those associated with the movement from entering the country.