Anti-ISIS artwork set to appear at a free speech event in London was banned this week after police demanded £36,000 to protect the “potentially inflammatory content.”
Initially chosen to be featured by “The Passion for Freedom” exhibition at the Mall Galleries, the display, an assortment of light box tableaux entitled “Isis Threaten Sylvania,” tells the story of the terrorist group “MICE-IS.”
“Far away, in the land of Sylvania, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, mice and all woodland animals have overcome their differences to live in harmonious peace and tranquility. Until Now,” London-based artist Mimsy describes. “MICE-IS, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group, are threatening to dominate Sylvania, and annihilate every species that does not submit to their hardline version of sharia law.”
According to The Guardian, event representatives had no choice but to pull the artwork after Westminster Police raised “a number of serious concerns regarding the potentially inflammatory content of Mimsy’s work.”
“Mall Galleries was approached by Westminster Police who expressed concern about the potential risks of including Mimsy’s work,” event organizers said. “They made it clear there would be an additional policing cost if the work was included in the exhibition and indicated this cost would be passed on either to the artist or to the exhibition organiser. Mall Galleries relayed this information to the exhibition organiser, whose Board met and decided to remove the work from the exhibition.”
Event representatives noted that despite the officers’ claims, Mimsy’s work had already been “enthusiastically received” at the Art15 art fair at London’s Royal College of Art last May.
Mimsy, who was reportedly told by police that her creation “isn’t real art,” argues that a ban on her work will only further empower radical Islamic fundamentalists.
“I love my freedom,” Mimsy told The Guardian. “I’m aware of the very real threat to that freedom from Islamic fascism and I’m not going to pander to them or justify it like many people on the left are doing.”
“I’m sick and tired of people calling criticism of fanatical Islam racist, because racism is about your skin colour and radical Islam is nothing to do with that. There are millions of Muslims who are shocked by it too.”
The situation is reminiscent of a similar incident earlier this year in which UK police arrested a controversial political activist simply to prevent him from meeting with organizers of a “draw Mohammad” cartoon contest.
In April of 2014, Paul Weston, chairman of the party Liberty GB, was arrested by UK police as well for the “racially aggravated crime” of repeating a quote on Islam by Winston Churchill.