A painting of the State of Liberty, which depicts her wearing hijab, has caused anger as it hangs in Rep. Lou Correa’s (D-Calif) district office, as part of an annual Congressional Art Competition. The painting won fourth place in California’s 46th district.
There are some who #hate this painting and want me to take it down. I see a young woman who is trying very hard to show people that she is an #American. If I took down her #art, I’d be telling the world her experiences don’t matter and she did something wrong. This is her country too, and she earned that spot on my wall.
We the People Rising, a group that protests against undocumented immigrants, is demanding the painting be removed from the congressional office because it violates the separation of church and state in government.
“Ultimately, to attribute a specific religion to the Statue of Liberty is inaccurate, unprofessional and offensive. In addition, the painting displays the torch of the Statue of Liberty, not as the heralded beacon of light, but rather held awkwardly to one side — in a perplexing, even disturbing, manner,” We the People Rising activist, Mike McGetrick, told the Washington Post.
Correa, however, has no plans to remove the paining. In an interview he stated, “You take it in the context of a lady, probably a Muslim American — with all that’s going on, she’s a proud American. That’s what it says to me.” He even sought advice from Legislative Counsel in regards to the painting, which told him he could display the art without legal repercussions.
We the People Rising have threatened to protest outside of Rep. Correa’s office on Sept. 11 if the painting in not taken down. Correa responded on Instagram with this statement, “There are some who #hate this painting and want me to take it down. I see a young woman who is trying very hard to show people that she is an #American. If I took down her #art, I’d be telling the world her experiences don’t matter and she did something wrong. This is her country too, and she earned that spot on my wall.”
Oddly enough, members of We the People Rising may be unaware that the Statue of Liberty was intended by the designer to portray a woman wearing hijab, according to The Smithsonian, a United States government museum.
In fact, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the French designer who created the Statue of Liberty, was inspired by Egyptian women in their traditional clothing, which included hijab covering the head. The statue was even meant to be placed in Egypt, but Egypt refused due to high construction costs. France eventually commissioned two statues, removed the hijab, and gifted one to the United States in 1876.