Rep. J. Luis Correa (D-CA) has come under fire for a painting hanging in his California office that shows the Statue of Liberty wearing a hijab, a head covering often worn by Muslim women.
Local activist group We the People Rising has attacked the painting - which was created by a high school student as part of the Congressional Art Competition - as an unpatriotic violation of the separation of church and state.
Mike McGetrick, an activist with the group, called the painting "perplexing" and "disturbing" in a letter to Correa asking him to take it down, the Washington Post reported.
“Ultimately, to attribute a specific religion to the Statue of Liberty is inaccurate, unprofessional and offensive,” McGetrick wrote. “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.”
During a July meeting between We the People Rising members and a Correa staffer, McGetrick called the painting “filthy.”
Correa on Tuesday morning told the Post he won’t remove the painting, calling it an individual artist’s expression.
He warned that policing art like that could lead to a “very dangerous slippery slope.”
“My thoughts were, here’s probably a young Muslim lady who is trying very hard to be part of America, who is trying very hard to show people that she is an American, given the context that is going on around us in our country,” Correa said. “By me taking it down, I’m acknowledging that she did something wrong.”
We the People Rising said it will continue its campaign to have Correa take the painting down, even promising a September 11 protest at Correa’s office if the painting is not removed by then.