'McJesus' art sculpture at Israeli museum upsets Christians, sparks calls for removal

A sculpture of "McJesus" — Jesus modeled as Ronald McDonald — has upset Christians in Israel, where the art remains on display.

Hundreds of Christians in the Middle Eastern country are calling for the art to be removed from the Haifa Museum of Art, where the display has been up for months. It was previously on display in other countries without any issues.

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Police said that rioters who oppose the art have thrown stones and a firebomb at the museum, leaving three officers wounded. Authorities have dispersed the crowds with tear gas and stun grenades.

Nissim Tal, the museum's director, told The Associated Press that the uproar was sudden. The protests appear to have been sparked by visitors who have shared photos of the exhibit online.

The display in Haifa, Israel is intended to criticize what many view as society's cult-like worship of capitalism.

The display in Haifa, Israel is intended to criticize what many view as society's cult-like worship of capitalism. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

The display is intended to be a criticism of capitalism worship.

Amid protests, the museum hung a curtain over the entrance of the exhibit and posted a sign that said the artwork was not intended to offend people.

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However, that hasn't pleased protesters. One, who remained outside the museum on Monday, stood with a sign that read: "Respect religions."

Amir Ballan, an artist in Haifa and a Christian, said the display is "very offensive" and said protests "won't be quiet until we reach a solution."

Jani Leinonen, the Finnish artist behind "McJesus," has also asked that it be taken down — but for a different reason.

He says he supports Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, or BDS, a Palestinian-led movement aimed at pressuring Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. The group has made significant gains in recent years, persuading a number of foreign artists to cancel performances in Israel.

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Tal said the museum won't remove the display, as they "will be defending freedom of speech, freedom of art, and freedom of culture."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.