Another image of Mohammed sparks violent rage in Europe. This time it's a work of art interpreting a historical event of over 300 years ago.
DW: Belgian police is protecting a 17th century pulpit in the Flemish town of Dendermonde. The pulpit in the Catholic church of Our Lady dates from 1685, two years after the battle of Vienna when the Christian armies of the Polish King John III Sobieski defeated the Turks poised to overrun Europe. The sculpted wooden pulpit, made by Mattheus van Beveren, depicts a man subdued by angels and represents the triumph of Christianity over Islam. The man is generally thought to be Mohammed. He is holding a book which is generally assumed to be the Koran.
Two years ago, on April 16, 2006, during the height of the Danish cartoon affair, this website published a photo of the pulpit to show that there is a long tradition of depicting Mohammed in European iconography. Last Friday the Turkish newspaper Yeniçag reprinted our picture on its front page with the caption “Stop this hideous insult.” Yeniçag demands that Belgium remove the pulpit. The paper writes that “We have had the crusades and now they are still trying to humiliate us. This is as bad as the Danish cartoons and Geert Wilders’s Fitna movie in the Netherlands. Even Pope Benedict does nothing to stop these humiliations.”
It should be noted that the sculpture depicts a Muslim invasion of Vienna, not the Crusades. Of course the artist should be free to depict the Crusades if he chooses, but I digress.
Since Friday, we have received threats while the authorities in Belgium, which has a large population of Turkish immigrants, fear that the pulpit and the church may be attacked. The Belgian press reported today that the police is guarding Dendermonde’s Our Lady church to prevent vandalism to church and pulpit.
More about artist Mattheus Van Beveren.