A California congressman’s taste in art has sparked outrage among anti-immigrant activists.
We the People Rising — based in Claremont, California — have launched a complaint against a painting displayed in the district office of Rep. Lou Correa (D-California) that depicts the Statue of Liberty as a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, The Hill reports.
The group is claiming that the artwork is inappropriate for a politician to display as it symbolizes a violation of the separation of church and state.
“It’s a bad example for our congressman,” Mike McGertrick, an activist with We the People Rising, reportedly told The Orange County Register. “He shouldn’t have anything religious in his office. … I would like to see our Congress people be right-down-the-line patriotic.”
Correa, on the other hand, defended himself against these accusations, maintaining that he received approval from the Office of the Legislative Counsel to hang the painting, and there are no legal issues with it. He also said he had no plans to remove the painting, which was created as an entry to a contest among local student artists.
“You take it in the context of a lady, probably a Muslim American — with all that’s going on, she’s a proud American,” Correa said. “That’s what it says to me.”
We the People Rising insist that the painting be removed or else they plan to hold a demonstration outside of Correa’s office on Sept. 11. However, the group declares that their opposition to the artwork isn’t because it depicts a Muslim, specifically, but they are rejecting the inclusion of religion, of any kind, in the congressman’s office.
But let’s face it: This uproar is absolutely about the painting depicting a Muslim as evidenced by the very fact that anti-immigrant activists are the people taking issue with it.
What further confirms the Islamophobic nature of their complaint is that they plan to hold their protest on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks — a tragedy that sparked a wave of staunch Islamophobia throughout the United States that is being mirrored today.
Emotions tend to run high each year around Sept. 11, and it’s likely that We the People Rising want to exploit those emotions to garner support for their Islamophobic agenda.
The painting does not violate the separation of church and state but rather serves as a reminder that the civil liberties and rights that the Statue of Liberty represents are afforded to all Americans — regardless of race, religion, or economic class.