Friday, September 21, 2012

Safest place in France? The new Islamic art exhibit at the Louvre

AP Photo/Gonzalo Fuentes
Gonzalo Fuentes Saudi billionaire Prince Waleed bin Talal, his wife Princess Amira al-Taweel, left, and Azerbaijan's first lady Mehriban Aliyeva visit the new Department of Islamic Arts galleries at the Louvre museum in Paris, 
Is this the safest place in France right now? 
No, not the offices of Charlie Hebdo, which are probably the unsafest. But if you want to avoid getting caught in an outpouring of anti-Western rage, try the Louvre, which has just opened a new $130 million wing devoted to Islamic art. Says the BBC:
This is the most significant and innovative architectural extension to the Louvre since IM Pei shook the venerable institution with his glass pyramid in 1989.
At the time, there were many who argued that his structure would destroy the classical beauty of this palace of art. Now, of course, it is among the most popular attractions in Paris.
Opening this weekend in the neo-classical, 19th Century Visconti courtyard of the Louvre, the new Department of Islamic Art has a undulating glass and metal roof, resembling a floating carpet, under which will be displayed the largest and most significant collection of Islamic art in Europe.
There’s always the danger that something in the display will offend a mullah somewhere, but the odds are improved by the fact the biggest single donor to the exhibit was Prince Waleed Bin Talal,of Saudi Arabia, who gave about $20 million. “Since 9/11, it is the duty of all Muslims to explain to the West what real Islam is like and how peaceful the religion is,” he told the BBC. Let’s hope there isn’t a video display.

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