Twitter slams Muslim artist for hidden political, religious references in Marvel's X-Men comic

Namrata Tripathi
Twitter slams Muslim artist for hidden political, religious references in Marvel's X-Men comic

An Indonesian Muslim comic artist was fired last week by Marvel Comics for inserting hidden political and religious references in an X-Men comic. The artist's propagandist drawings did not go down well with Twitterati either.

The Muslim artist, Ardian Syaf, reportedly inserted pro-Islam references into X-Men Gold's first issue. Syaf drew attention when people noticed the number 212 in the background of one of his artworks.

The number 212 is a reference to a large protest held against Jakarta's first Christian governor, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in December 2016. Purnama was accused of blasphemy against Islam, according to Al Jazeera.

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Marvel terminated Syaf's contract stating that his sketches went against the brand's message of inclusiveness.

In one of his controversial drawings, Syaf had inserted the number 5:51. The number refers to a verse in the Quran, some interpret the verse as advocating that only Muslims should be appointed as leaders of Muslims.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Syaf defended his move saying, "For us Muslims, it is not a hate message. It's a rule from Allah. Allah, through this verse, says Muslim cannot choose a non-Muslim leader. That's not hatred."

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Syaf's drawings also drew flak from others in the profession who called him unprofessional, while some illustrators said that he is ruining the reputation of other Muslim artists and that his move may have an adverse affect on them.

Syaf also gave a statement about his artwork on his Facebook page: "The meaning behind the numbers; perhaps some will understand them. If they don't that's okay," he wrote. "You can comment on it because it's something I can't control. My advice is, although you disagree with me, please say it in a polite way."

The artist also reportedly said that he has no regrets if his controversial drawings put his career in jeopardy.

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Syaf has also worked for DC Comics and Dynamite Entertainment. He is also known to engage in practice of hiding Easter egg references to political figures in the backgrounds of his artwork. Syaf reportedly included a storefront sign that referenced the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, in Batgirl (Vol 4) #9 (July 2012). Although the text that accompanies the image of Widodo in Syaf's pencilled artwork is covered by a caption in the final issue.

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