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Art exhibit raided, gallery closed down

A painting by artist Shorouk Amin
A painting by artist Shorouk Amin
(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 8 March 2012 - ANHRI condemns in the strongest possible terms the police raid on the exhibit of Shorouk Amin, a Kuwaiti artist and poetess on 5 March 2012, only two hours after its opening at al-Mashreq gallery in the city of al-Salhiya. The police seized all the paintings on display and closed down the gallery, apparently heeding to pressure from some fundamentalists. Most of the Kuwaiti artists and all supporters of freedom of artistic creativity were shocked over the incident since it is the first time an art gallery has been forced to close down in Kuwait.

The exhibition “World of a man” opened a few days before International Women's Day, and faced criticism from the Kuwaiti authorities claiming that its paintings were “inappropriate”. It is both surprising and worrisome that police or administrative entities assess works of art and uses their power to approve or reject the display of such works in public.

According to Amin, no one complained about the paintings being “inappropriate” or “indecent”, and her works mainly tackle the male-dominated society's dual perception of women and men. She had also held a similar exhibition entitled “Daughters of the society”, in which she presented the details of the Kuwaiti woman's world.

“They cannot suppress me as an artist, impede my free expression, or confiscate my ideas under pretexts that are new to Kuwaiti society,” said Amin in her comments regarding this strange action to the Kuwaiti newspaper Qabas.

“The Kuwaiti authorities should respect freedom of creativity, even if it is contrary to the personal view of some people. Art is countered with artistic criticism, not confiscation and prevention. Governments should guarantee more freedom to artists and their guarantee their right to express themselves in the way that they find appropriate,” said ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on the Kuwaiti government to immediately take the initiative to correct this error and apologize not only to Amin, but to all Kuwaiti artists and creative individuals, so that Kuwait does not turn into a police state controlled by a fundamentalist climate and loses one of the most important features it is famous for: that is diversity and relative openness in the Arab Gulf.

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