Ground Zero art exhibit featuring Saudi flag to be removed from site, officials say

An art exhibit near the World Trade Center in New York will be removed after it received backlash for the inclusion of the Saudi Arabian flag near the 9/11 memorial site.

"Candy Nations" — an installation featuring pieces of candy draped in flags of countries in the G-20 summit — has been on display near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan since December, and was set to remain there until Feb. 28.

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But after receiving criticism for the display of a Saudi flag at the site where around 3,000 people died at the hands of terrorists — 15 of whom were Saudis — the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey confirmed the installation will be relocated.

"We have been in contact with the 9/11 Memorial and various stakeholders, and in full collaboration with the artist will relocate the exhibit from its current location," the Port Authority said in a statement. "We believe this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit."

A coalition of family members of 9/11 victims and survivors also said in a statement that moving the exhibit "is the right thing to do."

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"The sculpture's presence at this site, depicting the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) flag, is an outrageous affront to the 9/11 community and all other Americans who seek justice for the attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001," the group said.

The green Saudi flag is draped around a sculpture, as pictured here outside the Oculus near Ground Zero.

The green Saudi flag is draped around a sculpture, as pictured here outside the Oculus near Ground Zero. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of victims' relatives and injured survivors have sued the Saudi government, saying its employees knowingly assisted hijackers who carried out the attacks. The Saudi government has long denied any involvement.

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The artist behind the installation, Laurence Jenkell, told The Observer that she created the green Saudi flag artwork in 2011 as part of the larger "Candy Nations." Her website states the 9-foot-tall, 1450-lb. sculptures are meant to be "an optimistic message of unity beneath external differences."

The exhibit was previously shown in more than 25 countries and was previously on display in the Garment District and at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.