American Muslim Group Calls for ‘Common Decency’ and ‘Mutual Respect’ -- But Not Removal of Exhibition Depicting Ant-Covered Jesus

By Pete Winn | November 30, 2010 | 3:57 PM EST

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper, alongside two other CAIR spokesmen, at a news conference. (AP photo)

( – The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it supports “common decency” and “mutual respect,” but CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper stopped short of calling for the removal of an exhibit that features images of an ant-covered Jesus and “homoerotic art” currently at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery

“We don’t want to be in a position of banning art or censoring art,” Hooper told on Tuesday.

As reported Monday, the federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show's catalog as "homoerotic."

“While we’re strong believers in the First Amendment and believers in freedom of speech, we always ask for common decency and mutual respect on issues of these kinds of depictions of revered religious figures – whether it’s the Prophet Muhammad, or as Muslims see, the Prophet Jesus, we would ask that people respect the religious sensitivities of others in these matters,” Hooper said.

When asked, however -- "Should this exhibition continue or should it be cancelled?"-- Hooper did not directly answer.  

“Well that’s always a difficult question because, again, we support freedom of expression and we don’t want to be in a position of banning art or censoring art. But it’s just a question of common courtesy and mutual respect, I think. People are free to go to these kinds of exhibits or not, and they are free to donate to these institutions or not -- based on the actions of the institutions,” Hooper told on Tuesday.