Friday, July 18, 2008

The Louvre's new Muslim wing

Can you say Eurabia?

Paris aims to cement its position as the "European capital of Arab and Islamic culture."

It is known as the Veil and is described by its architects as a giant glass Muslim headscarf in the heart of Paris. The former French president Jacques Chirac saw it as one way to avert a clash of civilisations in the run-up to the Iraq war. President Nicolas Sarkozy calls it the symbol of France's friendship with the Arab world.

I call it merde.

The Louvre, which registered a record 8.3 million visitors last year, boasts one of the world's most comprehensive Islamic art collections. More than 10,000 pieces range from the 7th to 19th century, featuring glasswork and ceramics, Ottoman empire art and one of the world's most important collections of carpets. Yet most of the Islamic works have been in storage for more than 20 years, never afforded the same prominence as western exhibits.

Why haven't the Islamic works been "afforded the same prominence?"

Perhaps because they're boring and banal?

As you know, depictions of the human form is haraam in Islam and I mean really, how many old stinky rugs and patterned tiles can you look at before you go off in search of something more visually exciting?

It's no surprise that the museum was started by that old reprobate, Jacques Chirac in 2003 and was funded in large part by Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, whose €17m contribution to the project is one of the biggest private cultural donations made in France. The last "grand project" between France and Islam, Fran├žois Mitterrand's, L'Institut du Monde Arabe (the Arab World Institute) was formed to:

"disseminate information about the Arab world and set in motion detailed research to cover Arabic and the Arab world’s cultural and spiritual values."

It is currently reorganising after financial difficulties. Its funding is shared between France and the 22 Arab league countries, some of whom have been accused of being late in their payments.

Hmm. So they want to disseminate information about the Arab World. No thanks, all I needed to learn about the Arab World I learned on 9/11.

My question - how long will it be after the opening of the Lourve's Islamic Art wing until "decadent" Western works like these will be removed from public display due to offended Muslim sensibilities?