Sooreh Hera WANTS to die

Enraged by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent claim that Iran has no homosexuals, Sooreh Hera decided to make a statement by photographing two Iranian men dressed as the Prophet Muhammad and his cousin/son in-law Ali engaged in homosexual activity.

Apparently, its a statement on the hypocrisy toward homosexuality that she has seen in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Whether her assertations about the sex lives of men in Muslim society is correct or not, this woman wants nothing more than to die at the hands of the millions of people it will enrage. Which will in turn further exacerbate the xenophobia the world currently feels towards Muslims. Surely, this woman cannot be stupid. She had to have known that such pictures would enrage even the most “moderate” of Muslims and possibly force millions into the streets to call for her to answer for her sheer disrespect.

This goes beyond a mere artistic statement and becomes nothing more than shock, awe, and disrespect for their sake. Surely, there are better more intelligent, artistic, and creative ways to make a statement on homosexuality and spirituality around the world and throughout the major religions of the world.

If indeed, Hera was offended by Ahmadinejad’s words or Conservative America’s stances towards homosexuality she could have found another powerful way to address the hypocrisy she sees but this is NOT it.

To take two of the most important figures in Islam and have random men portraying them in sexual situations is absolutely disrespectful. What makes the pictures even more offensive is the use of masks worn ordinary people to portray religious figures in a religion that stalwartly opposes iconoclasm. I am also lead to believe that Hera is smart enough to have known the potential firestorm of outcries such pictures could create and what the media depiction of that eruption of outcries may mean for Muslims all over the world.

In a response to the Hague Museum’s decision not portray the controversial photographs, Blogger Aidan Maconachy states:

“When you consider that many controversial works such as Piss Christ by photographer, Andres Serrano, have been staged with the icons of Christianity as the center piece, you have to ask why a special exception should be made for the personalities of Islam. After all a great many Christians were highly offended by the Serrano photograph. The obvious answer is because Muslim extremists are willing to bomb and kill in order to force their agenda. But should the expression of an artist in a free society be subjected to a fear clause? If Serrano can exhibit Piss Christ or Chris Ofili exhibit an elephant dung design of the Virgin Mary, shouldn’t a public institution hosting Hera’s work stand by her choice to show contentious pieces such as Adam and Ewald?

If a society begins to ban works of art out of deference to the religious sensibilities of one group, doesn’t that grant a form of special status? How far are we prepared to interfere with an artist’s ability to share his or her vision in order to protect Muslims from being offended?”

Not quite Aidan, Muslims will be offended because Sooreh Hera crossed the line that separates artistic expression from downright cultural and religious insensitivity. The ban on representations of religious figures was set up to steer clear of the iconoclasm and possible idol worship that has lead to Virgin Mary belt buckles being sold at Lucky Brand Jeans and photographs like Hera’s. With these photographs, Hera isn’t simply depicting a religious figure in a controversial or challenging way – she is literally ignoring one of the most sacred rules in a religion and using the ensuing controversy and outrage of depicting two religious figures in an obscene manner to prove her point.

Hera’s willingness to turn a blind eye to this rule, like the authors and illustrators of the Danish comics before her, is nothing more than utter disrespect and what may ultimately be considered the greater of her crimes.