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Indonesian 'X-Men Gold' comic writer inserts anti-Ahok references in comic book, ignites controversy

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, April 9, 2017 | 05:03 pm
Indonesian 'X-Men Gold' comic writer inserts anti-Ahok references in comic book, ignites controversy

'X-Men Gold #1' by Ardian Syaf, Jay Leisten and Frank Martin. (facebook.com/ArdianSyafComicArt/File)

The first issue of X-Men Gold from Marvel has caused an outcry among Indonesian netizens as it contains symbols related to current religious and political issues happening in Indonesia.

Created by Indonesian Ardian Syaf, the symbols in the new comic series reference the protests against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.

In one of the panels showing a baseball match between the new members of the X-Men, “QS 5:51” is written on Colossus’s shirt.

Another panel also shows the numbers “212” above a building near to X-Men leader Kitty Pryde’s head, one of the most prominent Jewish heroes in Marvel Comics, according to io9.gizmodo.

QS 5:51 is allegedly a reference to the surah Al Maidah verse 51 of the Quran.

Ahok, a Christian and a Chinese-Indonesian operating in a Muslim-majority country, angered Muslim groups after he referenced the verse during a visit to Thousand Islands regency on Sept. 27, 2016.

Following an investigation, the National Police named him a suspect for alleged blasphemy.

Several rallies have taken place, one of them was the “212 Rally” held on Dec. 2, 2016.

Taking place at National Monument (Monas) square in Central Jakarta, some protesters were found shouting anti-Ahok slogans as they called on the police and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to arrest Ahok.

At that time, Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab warned the government that Muslims would take to the streets again if they were dissatisfied with how the law dealt with Ahok.

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Many netizens have posted their responses to the new comic, including on Adrian's personal Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Marvel issued a statement to ComicBook.com, saying “The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its alleged meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition to the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation.”

Furthermore, Marvel is said to have removed the artwork from subsequent printings, digital versions and trade paperbacks. The company has also handed down “disciplinary action” to Ardian.

Ardian also gave a statement concerning 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.”

He also shared his conversation with a Marvel fan through Facebook chat, in which he stated that he had already explained the meaning of the numbers to Marvel.

“I don’t hate Jews or Christians. I worked with them for 10 years. Many of them are good friends of mine,” he stated.

“The number is an act of peace in 2-12-2016 [to protest] a governor that committed blasphemy to our Holy Book because police never take him like [other] blasphemers […] QS 5:51 is the verse he mocked, this [holds a] very special memory for me.”

Ardian Syaf's now deleted Facebook post, in which he explains about his 'X-Men Gold' art. (facebook.com/ArdianSyafComicArt/File)

According to Bleeding Cool, Syaf also included Jokowi in one of the panels in the Batgirl comic issue. (kes)

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