South Africans Deface Penis Portrait of President
Two men vandalized a portrait of South African President Jacob Zuma that shows him exposed.
On May 22, a middle-aged white man painted a red cross on the president's face and private parts, while a younger black man smeared black paint over the picture. They were both taken into police custody, but no charges have yet been announced.
The work, titled "The Spear," shows the president in a stance echoing that of Vladimir Lenin, except with his penis hanging out of his pants. The painting is by artist Brett Murray, who has been critical of the former apartheid government. It is part of a larger exhibition "addressing the perception of endemic corruption in Nelson Mandela's former liberation movement."
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The men's attack of the work has fueled an already "heated debate about the picture that has enraged the ruling African National Congress." The party described the painting as crude and racist and had put forth a legal bid to have the picture removed.
Last week, Anton Harbor, the chariman of South Africa's Freedom of Expression Institute, "called the ANC's criticism of the picture 'silly' and defended artists' right to pose difficult, uncomfortable questions with their work."
Right before the defacement, however, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said "people had a right to criticize the government, but there were limits. When you had an artist depicting the president's genitals, he added, 'you are not raising a discussion, you are insulting people.'"