Wednesday January 27, 2016

Pro-Palestinian mural causes deep divisions at York University

A mural that hangs at York University called Palestinian Roots by Ahmad Al Abid

A mural that hangs at York University called Palestinian Roots by Ahmad Al Abid

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One of Canada's richest men is yanking his support for York University over a painting.

The mural hangs over an entrance at the Toronto school's student centre. It features a bulldozer and a tree along with a figure holding rocks, wearing a scarf. The scarf is emblazoned with a Palestinian flag and map showing the area of Israel and the Palestinian territories, but without borders. 

Palestinian Roots full

A mural that hangs at York University called Palestinian Roots by Ahmad Al Abid

The painting is titled Palestinian Roots. But Paul Bronfman has another term for it. The entertainment magnate says the mural is violent propaganda. And now he's put a stop to a series of programs that benefited York's cinema and media arts department. 

On Wednesday, As It Happens spoke with Bronfman. We also reached Gayle McFadden, VP of operations at York's student federation. Citing free expression, McFadden defends the painting, refusing to remove it from the university's walls.

In a statement, York's administration says the mural is located in the student centre, which is a separate legal entity from the university. Officials suggested that we direct our questions to the student centre's Board of Directors.