Art of Blasphemy? Kuwaiti Sculptors Struggle with Islamic Taboo

Published November 8th, 2018 - 10:15 GMT

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Like Christianity and Judaism, Islam bans idol worship, but some Muslims go further and forbid any representation of the human form.

Stymied by a conservative view of Islam that bans representations of the body, the 75-year-old faces any artist's nightmare: he can't get his work displayed to the public in his homeland.

Like other sculptors in the Gulf state he bristles at claims that his creations constitute idol worship and urges the authorities to push back against demands he sees as outmoded. Continue reading below »

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses next to his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses next to his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses in front of one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses in front of one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP
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Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 1 of 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 2 of 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 3 of 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses with one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses next to his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 4 of 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses next to his work at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 5 of 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 6 of 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 7 of 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses in front of one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 8 of 9Kuwaiti sculptor Sami Mohammed poses in front of one of his works at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. 
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

Image 9 of 9A picture taken at the Museum of Modern Art in Kuwait City on October 4, 2018, shows a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed. Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP

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Arguments over the representation of the human form in the Muslim world are by no means limited to Kuwait. At the most extreme end the jihadists of the Islamic State group have smashed up and pillaged artworks they deemed sacrilegious across Iraq and Syria.

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