Gallery scraps art, fearing Muslim rage -curator

PARIS (Reuters)

A London gallery has decided not to show some works of art because it fears they would upset Muslims, a curator said on Friday, a week after a German opera house canned a Mozart production for the same reason.

The director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery decided to remove works by surrealist artist Hans Bellmer from an exhibition the day before it was due to open, one of the museum's curators, Agnes de la Beaumelle, told Reuters

."The motive was simply to not shock the population of the Whitechapel neighbourhood, which is partly Muslim," she said. The Whitechapel area in east London is home to many ethnic minorities including a large Bangladeshi community.

The gallery issued a statement saying that some works were not included in the exhibition because of space constraints but declined to comment specifically on what Beaumelle said.

Last week, Berlin's Deutsche Oper reignited a heated debate in Europe over free speech and had to fend off charges of cowardice after it cancelled performances of Mozart's "Idomeno", fearing they could enrage Muslims and pose a security risk.

Beaumelle said the exhibition had already been to Paris and Munich without provoking any protests and Bellmer, who died in 1975, is well-known in the art world, which made the decision by gallery director Iwona Blazwick all the more surprising to her. Bellmer's work includes dolls of naked young girls.

"It surprised me because Bellmer's work is very well known. She already knew it well and by committing to take our exhibition she must have known what would be on the walls," Beaumelle said

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