Prayer rug artwork pulled in France over Muslim concerns

NANTERRE, France (AFP) - An art installation showing high heels on Islamic prayer rugs was pulled from an exhibition near Paris after a Muslim group complained the work could provoke "uncontrollable" reactions, the artist said Tuesday.

"Silence", which has already been shown in Paris, Berlin, New York and Madrid, was supposed to go on display in Clichy La Garenne, which is just north of the capital, in a woman-themed art show.

But French-Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah decided to replace the work after a local Muslim group told Town Hall last week that "uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents could result" if the installation was shown there.

Bouabdellah said she was surprised by the "incomprehension" her work has met, but added she believes it is tied to emotions stirred by militant attacks in France earlier this month that left 17 people dead.

"I'm left wondering by the reasons that push a certain fringe among French Muslims to see this work as blasphemous," she said, adding that she did not intend it to shock or provoke.

Bouabdellah decided to replace "Silence" with a video installation titled "Dansons" that shows belly dancing to the French national anthem.