Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 19:07 UK

Israeli protests close exhibition

A worker removes the controversial works of two Israeli artists
Ferror provoked anger from relatives of bombers' victims

Artists who grafted the faces of female Palestinian suicide bombers on images of Mary, the mother of Jesus, have had their exhibition shut down in Israel.

A wave of criticism greeted the planned event but the Israeli artists say their work was completely misinterpreted.

"The exhibition was an attempt to commemorate the memory of the victims," artist Lilia Chak told the BBC.

Israel's largest daily Yediot Aharonot ran a critical story of the planned exhibition headlined "Holy Terrorists".

Defending their work, Lilia Chak and Galina Bleikh said it was meant to question how these women had become suicide bombers.

"We dealt with a new phenomena called women's terrorism; and tried to find out how is it that the symbol of love and motherhood, the Madonna, became a symbol of death," Lilia Chak said.

"This is a problem we need to face, but it is not only an Israeli problem and should concern the whole world."

Galina Bleikh wrote on her website: "In the warped world of extremism, love in the heart of a woman is replaced by such hatred that even motherhood is replaced by desire for annihilation and mayhem."

We have to make it clear to these artists, who think using suicide bombers is artistic, that they are hurting people
Relative of Israeli victim of bus bomb

The works, entitled Ferror (Female Terrorism), show the faces of seven Palestinian women suicide bombers in traditional Muslim headscarves grafted onto famous paintings of the Virgin Mary such as Madonna and Child by Raphael.

Several hours ahead of the planned opening workers were seen removing the paintings from the walls of a gallery in the building of the National Federation of Israeli Journalists in Tel Aviv.

"We have to make it clear to these artists, who think using suicide bombers is artistic, that they are hurting people," said Yossi Tzur, whose son was killed in a 2003 bus bombing and filed a complaint with police alleging that the exhibition was an incitement to violence.

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