Artists threatened by extremist protest at Tunisian art fair
  2012-07-13 10:18:07  

Artists in the Tunisian capital feel under threat following protests by hundreds of extremist Salafi Islamists against a number of works shown at the Printemps des Arts contemporary art fair, Reuters reports. The uproar was sparked when a notary began to distribute images of the exhibiting artworks, including a piece, which was deemed particualrly offensive, which spells out the words 'Subhan Allah' – 'Glorious is God' – with the bodies of dead insects. Although the Tunisian Ministry of Culture denounced the protests they also condmned the artists involved for the display of insensitive material. Meriem Bouderbala, an organiser of the Printemps des Arts fair, told the news wire: 'The artists were not expecting this reaction. That is why they feel so fragile. They turned to the government but it is not supporting them so they feel they have hit a wall.' Although the noise from the Salafi Islamists has been somewhat lowered by a recent security crackdown, if the governemet do not implement some sort of long strategy to protect the artists, Khadji Hamdi, co-curator of the controversial exhibition, believes that they will leave the country for good and develop their creativity elsewhere.

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