Louvre opens new wing to restore 'full glory to Islam'
PARIS (AFP) - Paris's famed Louvre museum this week opens a new wing of Islamic art in a bid to improve knowledge of a religion often viewed with suspicion in the West.
Costing nearly 100 million euros (S$160 million), it is funded by the French government and supported by handsome endowments from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan.
About 3,000 precious works from the seventh to the 19th centuries are spread across 3,000 sq m over two levels. The exhibits will be rotated. The project was a brainchild of French former president Jacques Chirac and dates back to 2001.
It groups 18,000 treasures from an area spanning from Europe to India and includes the oldest love missive in the Islamic world. France is home to at least four million Muslims and leaders of the community say incidents of Islamophobia are on the rise against a background of confrontation with the authorities and rising suspicion of Muslims.