Islamic art wing opens at Louvre

Sept. 22, 2012 at 1:48 PM
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PARIS, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A new wing dedicated to Islamic art at the Louvre in Paris is meant, in part, "to explain to the West what real Islam is like," the museum's largest donor said.

The wing occupied by the newly formed Department of Islamic Art opened Saturday in the 19th century Visconti courtyard of the museum, the BBC reported. The more than 2,500 objects in the gallery include mosaics, a delicately carved ivory box from 928 and a 15th century Mamluk porch.

The gallery's largest donor, Prince Waleed Bin Talal, of Saudi Arabia, spent about $21.9 million to make the collection possible.

"Since 9/11, it is the duty of all Muslims to explain to the West what real Islam is like and how peaceful the religion is," he said.

Marwan Mohammad, a spokesman for the Collective Against Islamophobia, said he questions who the gallery is aimed at.

"If we ask people in the street, not many would be aware that the Islam gallery has opened, they won't know about it," he said.

"There is also an Islamic cultural center near here, funded by the government, but no one attends, because it doesn't relate to them. The gallery displays a vision that is Orientalist, and not inclusive of the Muslim community."

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