Netherlands: The Mecca of Calvin

Netherlands: The Mecca of Calvin

An art project called "The Mecca of Calvin", which was to be unveiled Friday, is causing a commotion in Dordrecht.

The artwork, created by Aziz Bekkaoui [Dutch-Moroccan artist living in Amsterdam], is a cube of 4x4 meters made entirely of reflective glass. The cube refers to the central holy place of Islam, the Kaaba, a cubic buildings in the inner courtyard of the Great Mosque of the Islamic pilgrimage site of Mecca.

The controversial art object will be placed in Het Hof, the square next to the historic Augustine Church, in the center of Dordrecht. It was supposed to be unveiled on Friday, but the license has not been granted yet. The new date for the unveiling is possibly July 17.

Gert de Boon, sexton of the Augustine Church, served a petition on Wednesday to the Dordrecht municipality against the artwork. "Calvin had nothing to do with Mecca, let alone with Islam. That this artwork makes that link, I think it's provoking. Certainly taking into account the area where it will appear. If there's one place which is linked with the origin of the Dutch State, the national synod and the State Translation [of the Bible], it's this location."

Not only Christians, but also Muslims are offended by the artwork, says Boon. "Mecca is for Muslims THE holy place. They are also not really happy that their Mecca is used in this way."

the Dordrecht sexton also has practical objections against the art object: it's too big, will provoke violence and vandalism by youth hanging around, and the huge surface of reflecting glass could be a fire-hazard. Boon hopes for wide-spread protest against it and for action by the political parties.

Director Gerrit Willems from the Center of the Visual Arts in Dordrecht is surprised. It was not the aim at all to make a religious statement of the artwork. The artist wanted to emphasize that values such a sobriety, self-reflection, hard work and consideration where not exclusive to Calvinism, but could also be found in other religions, such as Islam.

He cynically rejects the practical objections, saying that the square is quite big and the artwork fits in nicely. The artwork was certified by the fire department and all the bodies which need to be involved. Besides which, the Nationale-Nederlanden building in Rotterdam is made up entirely of glass, and has yet to cause a fire.

Source: Reformatorisch Dagblad (Dutch)

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