It seems that not all speech is welcome at a so-called “free speech” event held at London’s Mall Galleries, the UK Guardian reported Saturday. The work, named “Isis Threaten Sylvania” was removed after authorities raised concerns about what they called the “potentially inflammatory content” of the work. Organizers were told they would have to pay £36,000 — the equivalent of $54,727.20 in U.S. money — to handle security for the six-day event.
“To our shock the highlighted work was humorously mocking the despised terrorist organization that causes suffering to many, not only in the Middle East, but also here, in Europe and the America,” said event organizers. The artwork, they added, was part of the Art15 art fair at London’s Royal College of Art in May and was “enthusiastically received.”
“Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquility. Until Now,” says the note describing the work, created by a London-based artist known as Mimsy. “MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hardline version of sharia law.”
According to the report, the Mall Gallery consulted the police who noted “a number of serious concerns regarding the potentially inflammatory content of Mimsy’s work.” Mimsy, the report said, was outraged when police suggested his piece wasn’t “real art.”
“I love my freedom,” she said. “I’m aware of the very real threat to that freedom from Islamic fascism and I’m not going to pander to them or justify it like many people on the left are doing.” Mimsy, the Guardian added, is the daughter of a Syrian father whose Jewish family was forced into exile in Lebanon when he was a child.
Other pieces included an eight-foot long cast featuring the private parts of some 400 women and a video of one woman’s walk through Kabul, Afghanistan, intended to counter male harassment. According to reports, Kubra Khademi sparked anger and death threats when she walked through the city wearing body-contoured armor.
“I’m sick and tired of people calling criticism of fanatical Islam racist, because racism is about your skin color and radical Islam is nothing to do with that,” she added. “There are millions of Muslims who are shocked by it too.”
The Guardian reviewer called the banishment “as absurd and sinister as the reports that police officers asked for the names of British people buying Charlie Hebdo.” The Guardian continued: “What’s happening to us? Are we already ruled by black clad puppets of intolerance? This art is brave and witty. It deserves to be seen. To let fear of bigots and maniacs rule our art galleries is a betrayal of the (civilization) we claim to uphold.”