An incident of vandalism carried out by a Muslim student at the University of Duisburg-Essen triggered sharp criticism on Monday over the lack of public and university opprobrium toward the apparent criminal act.
Last month, the female student destroyed a graphic novel exhibit by the Israeli artist Rutu Modan. The university’s management had not disciplined the student and instead cancelled the exhibit, “What Comics Can Do! – Recent Trends in Graphic Fiction.”
When asked by The Jerusalem Post on Monday if the student’s conduct was animated by anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments, Beate Kostka, a spokeswoman for the university, said such questions cannot be answered at this time.
Kostka objected to the presentation in the German daily Die Tageszeitung, which asserted possible anti-Semitic motivation by the vandal. “When a German paper claims an anti-Semitic attitude,” it is based on unexamined assumptions, she said.
The spokeswoman said the university assigned a professor of Islamic studies to evaluate whether the Arabic language was correctly presented in the exhibit. She flatly denied the exhibit was removed so as not to offend Muslim students, who complained about a part of the exhibit containing the graphic novel Habibi.
The US comic and novel artist Craig Thompson authored Habibi, which shows sex scenes and the word “Allah” written in Arabic calligraphy, and caused outrage among Muslim students.
Prof. Frank Pointner justified the decision to take down the exhibit, saying “It is not about the content, rather the narration techniques and function of comics,” the regional daily WAZ reported.
Kostka said the university is examining the incident and reserves the right to take legal action against the student. She declined to say whether the university contacted the police because of a criminal act and refused to name the student.
The Muslim student cut with a scissor photographs from a collage based on Modan’s internationally acclaimed work Exit Wounds (“Blutspuren” in German). The collage showed a peace demonstration in Israel with a poster containing the word “Shalom.”...