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Sunday, April 09, 2017 

The Indonesian artist who snuck anti-Jewish and anti-Christian messages in an X-Men issue

Look what Marvel's "inclusiveness" led to, and this time, it's amazingly drawn some backlash. Ardian Syaf, a Muslim artist from Indonesia who's been working for Marvel, slipped some allusions to the koran into his artwork panels for X-Men: Gold, and Bleeding Cool, surprisingly enough, helpfully pointed out the offensive hidden messages discovered:
In Indonesia, 212 is the number used to denote a specific mass protest from 2nd December last year. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims marched against the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok,, over allegations of blasphemy regarding his use of the Qu’ran in campaigning against opponents. The march was organised, in part, with the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa [the Arabic word for verdict/judgement]. It was pretty hardline conservative and the protest demanded the government prosecute and jail Ahok based on the council’s fatwa, declaring him to be a blasphemer. This year, a 212 2.0 march with similar aims was held on the 21st of February.

Ahok caused a great deal of controversy in Indonesia after he referred to a verse in the Qur’an while campaigning, specifically the verse Al Maidah 5:51 and said that people should not believe Islamic leaders who claim it forbids Muslims from being led by non-Muslims. He has since repeatedly apologised for his statements, but it hasn’t stemmed the protest.
And that's because most Islamofascists make up their minds from the outset; apology or not, it makes no difference to them. Now, here's some of the panels with the offending messages hidden in plain sight:
In the first panel, we see the word "jewelry" on a store banner close enough to Kitty Pryde's head to signal her Jewish background. In the middle, there's the 212 digits, and on the shirt of a man to the right with his fist clenched is the number 51, the stealthed allusion to the Koranic verse, which Heat Street describes more clearly:
Citing the Koran, the Islamists invoked verse QS 5:51, which basically states that Muslims are forbidden from allying with Jews and Christians, much less led by a non-Muslim. The verse reads:

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are, in fact, allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is one of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.”

Referring to the verse, Ahok says that his political opponents are citing the Koran to deceive his supporters. For saying so, Ahok was accused of criticizing the Koran and now faces charges of blasphemy. He has since apologized for his statement, but to little avail as widespread protests broke out in the nation’s capital demanding his arrest and incarceration.
As you'll notice on the left side of the second panel, Colossus has a QS 5:51 on his baseball shirt, and the letters likely stand for "quranic sura". And for anybody familiar with Marvel

Following the outrage, Marvel later issued the following response:
The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.
Does that confirm they'll distance themselves from him via dismissal from their payroll? If they don't, then their response is unconvincing, and Bleeding Cool noted that it doesn't include an apology. And as for Syaf, as the following suggests, he has no remorse for his repellent stealth bigotry, which he may have injected into earlier DC books he illustrated too, such as the following examples from Batgirl and Earth 1 vol. 3:
These subtle propaganda messages may have been injected into US comics, mainstream or otherwise, for several years now, and only just recently were people able to notice. It reminds me of the time when 2 years ago, the producers of Homeland on TV hired some Islamic street artists who sabotaged the backgrounds on one episode with Arabic graffiti calling the show "racist" and supporting Black Lives Matter (and now that the series has turned soft on Islamofacism, anti-American and apparently anti-Israel in its latest season, it's hard to care). Who knows how much subtle damage has been caused to "art" in the past decade, all for the sake of phony diversity?

And G. Willow Wilson's not making things any better with her own dishonesty and apologia. She claims:
“Apparently, the Indonesian translation of 5:51 reads something like this: “Oh you who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians as leaders/advisors.” (I don’t speak or read Indonesian, so I am going off the explanations of others and stuff I have been able to find online.) The reason Syaf referenced this verse is because (apparently) he has been protesting a Christian governor in his province; a governor who has been accused of blasphemy and/or corruption and/or making fun of this particular verse of the Quran, depending on who you ask.”
If it weren't for the seriousness of the subject, this might be hilarious. She's trying to claim that the Indonesian editions of the koran differ from every other! (And she doesn't understand Indonesian language either.) Yup, it's the "misunderstanding and misinterpretation" excuse all over again. I guess it's the same with the word "taqqiya", which means "deception"? She's no better than Syaf, and that goes without saying. After all, her own work on the Muslim Ms. Marvel series has plenty of taqqiya already, so it's hypocritical to say he's in the wrong but she's not.

In the end, whatever "gold" is supposed to be in this X-Men book turns out to be a lot of wilted straw, and whether or not the editors excise the offending messages in the backgrounds, I'm sure it still won't be worth the paper it's printed on. But, I guess we will have to give Bleeding Cool and other comic book sites who brought this up some credit for showing the courage to address a serious subject. Here's more on the topic from One Angry Gamer and the Times of Israel.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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