JERUSALEM (JTA) — An artist whose sculpture of Ronald McDonald on a crucifix has asked a Haifa museum to remove the work, saying that he joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Jani Leinonen of Finland demanded that the Haifa Museum of Art take down his “McJesus” sculpture.
Hundreds of Arab-Christian protesters against the religious nature of the sculpture, some throwing rocks, clashed with police on Friday outside of the museum a day after a firebomb was thrown there.
The sculpture has been on display at the museum since August.
Leinonen told the local media that he thought his piece had been removed from the “Sacred Goods” exhibit. It was not reported when he asked for the removal.
“Israel overtly uses culture as a form of propaganda to whitewash or justify its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people,” he told The Jerusalem Post in explaining his removal request.
The museum told the Keshet broadcaster that it borrowed the work from a gallery in Finland and had not received a request to remove it from the exhibit.
Israel’s culture minister, Miri Regev, called on the museum to remove the sculpture and threatened to withhold state funds to the museum if it continues to display the work.
“Disrespect of religious symbols sacred to many worshippers in the world as an act of artistic protest is illegitimate and cannot serve as art at a cultural institution supported by state funds,” she told the museum.