Sooreh Hera

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Sooreh Hera (born 1973)[1] is an Iranian artist and photographer. "Sooreh Hera" is a pseudonym the artist chose for herself.[2] Hera's work, often featuring depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, have been considered expressions of free speech to some and offensive to others.[2] She is currently based in the Netherlands.[3]


Hera was born in Tehran.[3] She is a graduate of the Hague School of Fine Art.[4]

In December 2007, the Islamic Democratic Party "issued a statement calling for a mobilizing of forces."[5] In addition, she was called a "devil artist" with "plans against Islam."[5] These led to death threats against Hera, causing her to go into hiding.[5] She also has a fatwa issued against her.[2]


Hera describes her work as exposing hypocrisy in the teachings of Islam about issues like homosexuality.[2] She feels that it is important to talk about sexuality in order to criticize religion.[3] Hera states that "in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia it is common for married men to maintain relations with other men."[6] She says that "I'm hoping my work will arouse discussion."[2] One of her censored works, "Adam and Ewald," was a photograph of gay men wearing masks depicting Mohammed and his son-in-law, Ali.[7] "Adam and Ewald" is part of a series called Adam & Ewald, de zevendedagsgeliefden (Adam & Ewald, Seventh-Day Lovers).[8] The title of the series references the story of Adam and Eve, and also refers to a speech from a conservative Christian Dutch politician.[9]

Some museums who have attempted to show Hera's work have been threatened by those who find her work offensive.[5] In November 2007, the Hague Gemeentemuseum removed some of the works created by Hera in order to avoid upsetting the Muslim community.[5] The censoring of her art marked "the first time that a Dutch museum, as opposed to a government body, has censored an artwork from its own walls."[5] The museum director also accused Hera of deliberately creating provocative work in order to receive press attention.[10] Despite that, the museum still considered purchasing her complete series.[11] Hera chose not to participate in the show if some of her work was censored.[12] Artists in the Netherlands supported Hera, publishing an open letter to the Dutch Minister of Culture in the NRC Handelsblad.[13] Hera's work was invited to be shown at the Municipal Museum of Gouda, though the show was postponed due to threats from the Muslim community of Gouda.[13]



  1. ^ Kuiper, Annelies (1 December 2007). "Respectloos!". Cultureel Supplement (in Dutch). Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Winter, Jana (3 May 2008). "Iranian Artist Fights to Have Muhammad Art Displayed in Dutch Museums". Fox News. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "Soore". Soore (in Dutch). Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Golding 2014, p. 18.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Esman, Abigail (18 December 2007). "No Gay Gods?". ArtNet. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Campbell, Matthew (6 January 2008). "Woman Artist Gets Death Threats Over Gay Muslim Photos". Sunday Times. Retrieved 5 May 2016 – via EBSCO. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Esman 2010, p. 190.
  8. ^ Meijer-van Mensch 2013, p. 48.
  9. ^ Meijer-van Mensch 2013, p. 48-49.
  10. ^ Schweighofer, Kerstin (12 December 2007). "Streit um Homo-Mohammed". Art Das Kunstmagazin (in German). Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "Hague Museum Pulls Offensive Muslim Art". The Age. 3 December 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  12. ^ Esman 2010, p. 236.
  13. ^ a b Meijer-van Mensch 2013, p. 50.


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