Louvre opens Islamic art wing to the public
AFP – Paris’s famed Louvre museum on Saturday opened to the public a new wing of Islamic art in a bid to improve knowledge of a religion often viewed with suspicion in the West.
Costing nearly 100 million euros ($131 million), it is funded by the French government and supported by handsome endowments from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan.
About 3,000 precious works from the seventh to the 19th centuries are spread across 3,000 square metres (33,000 square feet) over two levels of the former palace.
Inaugurated by President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, the new wing holds 18,000 treasures from an area stretching from Europe to India and includes the oldest love letter in the Islamic world.
Denise Spacensky, one of the first visitors Saturday, said the opening came at an opportune time “with everything that is happening in the world”, stressing that the exhibits show “Islam as a refined, peaceful civilisation”.
“I hope it will open Westerners’ minds to the passionate past of Islamic civilisation, but also to the complex of Muslims who believe they are not understood,” said the retired teacher of Chinese art.
France is home to at least four million Muslims and leaders of the community say incidents of Islamophobia are on the rise against a background of confrontation with the authorities and rising suspicion of Muslims.
The Louvre opening comes as demonstrations are sweeping Muslim countries to protest a crudely made Internet video shot in the United States mocking Islam, and French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Sophie Makariou, the head of the department of Islamic arts at the Paris museum, said the aim of the new wing was to show “Islam with a capital I.”
SNIP: Dear Frenchies;
This is a museum of appeasement. We all know it. muslims have been dotting your ” i ” for a long time now…You still haven’t learned!