JERUSALEM (JTA) — A sculpture of a crucified Ronald McDonald will be removed from an exhibit at a museum in Haifa.
The city’s mayor, Einat Kalisch Rotem, announced Thursday that the McJesus sculpture will be returned to Finland with the contract lending the work to the Haifa Museum of Art due to expire at the end of the month. The work, from the Zetterberg Gallery in Helsinki, has been on display since August.
“Without any connection, we believe in freedom of speech as a cornerstone of democracy,” Rotem wrote in a tweet. “We regret the distress experienced by the Christian community in Haifa, and the physical injury and violence that followed. We thank the heads of the Christian churches and priests in Haifa for the dialogue and desire to bridge, the effort to reach a solution, and to prevent violence.”
Hundreds of Arab-Christian protesters against the religious nature of the sculpture, some throwing rocks, clashed with police on Friday outside of the museum, and after the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches in Haifa filed a lawsuit to have the work removed.
The sculpture’s artist, Jani Leinonen of Finland, also called for the work to be removed, saying that he joined the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.