While several attempts to reach Mayor Thomas M. Menino for comment today were unsuccessful, the local ACLU has responded to hundreds of bigoted remarks about a new public mural in Dewey Square.
Over the last few days, two post on a local media outlet’s Facebook page has generated about 600 comments from people debating whether the 70-foot-by-70-foot character depicts a Muslim person in a hijab, with many comments going so far as to call the figure a “towel head,” and a terrorist.
“The ACLU supports exercising freedom of expression, and that’s what the artists ‘Os Gemeos’ have done by getting a permit to create a mural depicting what the curator says is a little boy in pajamas with a shirt on his head,” ACLU of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose told Metro today.
“As art often does, the mural has provoked a range of emotions, including some ugly racist postings on a Boston Fox 25 Facebook page by people who seem to equate all head coverings with terrorism.”
For the second time in three days, Boston’s Fox 25 today invited its Facebook followers to weigh in on the mural by offering a photo of the mural with the caption “Today’s question of the day: What does the Greenway mural look like to you?”
By 5 p.m, the question racked up 152 comments, many of which said the painting looked like “a terrorist” with several people bashing Islam.
“Islam is not a race, it is a dangerous religious idea to both believers and infidels alike, that is perpetuated by men and women of all colors and nationalities,” said Facebook user Shawn Clark.
Commenter Sean Grealey wrote, “Oh you terrorists loving people, give me a break, this pics is s terrorist, prop related to Obama somehow.”
“Such racist reactions, while themselves protected speech, are nonetheless troubling, particularly after the shooting yesterday at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, in which someone may have passed judgment on others based simply on who they are or how they dress,” Rose said.
The Facebook feedback was no different than what the media outlet had gotten over the weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, Boston’s Fox 25 posted a photo of the mural asking a similar question.
That post garnered roughly 600 comments, and is still available on Fox 25’s Facebook page.
Facebook user Brian Christopher Glaser took offense to today’s post, saying “Recycling your fabricated controversy from Saturday. That’s what it looks like to me.”
It’s creators Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, known as “Os Gemeos,” named their mural “The Giant of Boston.” It is one of two new murals that the brothers created as part of their exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Check out this video of the brothers creating the mural: