Friday, June 15, 2007

Artists condemn obscenity arrest

By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai

Painting by MF Husain
The BJP has criticised some of the work of MF Husain
Art lovers in India are holding protests against the arrest of a student whose work was vandalised by activists who said they were obscene.

The artists say their right to freedom of expression is being violated.

They are demonstrating in Mumbai and other cities against "moral policing" by right-wing Hindu groups.

Intolerance against artistic expression is rising, with right-wing Hindu groups saying they are protecting Indian culture from malign foreign influences.

'Obscene and distasteful'

The artists have condemned last week's arrest of a post-graduate student from a university campus in the state of Gujarat.

The state is currently governed by the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The activists said that the work of Chandra Mohan is "obscene and distasteful" because it shows naked men.

The dean of the arts faculty at the university was suspended for opposing the student's arrest.

Chandra Mohan was released on bail after being imprisoned for four days.

His case shows that along with rapid economic progress, India is also facing a steady rise in the culture of artistic intolerance.

Recently right wing campaigners were furious over some nude paintings of a Hindu goddess by prominent Indian painter, MF Hussain.

Then last month, a man took court action against the Hollywood star, Richard Gere, for kissing his Bollywood counterpart, Shilpa Shetty, at a public function.

Activists argued that kissing in public went against Indian culture.

But the country's artistic community argues that the "moral brigade" does not enjoy mass appeal.

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