The "McJesus" sculpture by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen on display at the Haifa Museum of Art. (Haifa Museum of Art)
Hundreds of Arab Christians have clashed with police in the Israeli town of Haifa over a 'blasphemous' piece in the town's Museum of Art.
The artwork depicts a crucified Ronald McDonald. According to police, protesters tried to force their way into the museum and some officers were injured when rocks were thrown. A Molotov cocktail was thrown on Thursday.
One protester told the Walla news site that the government was discriminating against them because they were Christians. If they put up [a sculpture of] Hitler with a Torah scroll they would immediately respond.'
The piece, 'McJesus' by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, was part of the museum's Sacred Goods exhibit. Other pieces included one showing Jesus as a Ken doll.
'We denounce the exhibition and the injury to the holiest symbol of Christianity by an institution that is supposed to serve citizens of all religions,' Archimandrite Agapious Abu Sa'ada of the Greek Melkite Catholic Archeparchy of Acre told Haartez.
According to the Times of Israel, Israel's culture minister Miri Regev sent museum director Nissim Tal a letter calling for the sculpture's removal on Thursday, saying: 'Disrespect of religious symbols sacred to many worshipers in the world as an act of artistic protest is illegitimate and cannot serve as art at a cultural institution supported by state funds.'
However, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel protested her statement the following day, saying: 'The minister's threat to withdraw government support for the museum is baseless. The Budget Foundation Law does not include even the vaguest clause about prohibiting offensive content due to religious reasons.'
The museum said it would put up a notice saying the contents of the exhibition were potentially offensive.