Artist’s Burka Sculpture Vandalized by Angry Brexiter in London

The offender shouted "We voted to take our country back."

Yazmeen Sabri, Walk a Mile in Her Veil (2016). Courtesy of the artist.
Yazmeen Sabri, Walk a Mile in Her Veil (2016). Courtesy of the artist.

Artist Yazmeen Sabri was devastated when one of her artworks featuring a burka, which was being exhibited at London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) as part of her MFA degree show, was vandalized by an intoxicated woman.

The offending septuagenarian, identified as Mikaela Haze, will be sentenced next week for damages done to the burka sculpture, worth £6,000 ($7,800).

The defendant pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated criminal damage at Westminster Magistrate’s court after drunkenly attacking Sabri’s artwork, the Evening Standard reports.

Yazmeen Sabri, Walk a Mile in Her Veil (2016). Courtesy http://www.yasmeensabri.com

Yazmeen Sabri, Walk a Mile in Her Veil (2016). Courtesy of the artist.

The damaged sculpture was an integral part of Sabri’s work Walk a Mile in her Veil, meant to explore Arab identity through the veil. On her website, Sabri explains that the project invited visitors to try on the veil and understand first-hand the “cultural, social, and feminist” motives behind it.

However, just days after the landmark Brexit vote, Haze entered the RCA in South Kensington, where it was displayed, tore the veil from its metal support and knocked over the work, shouting “We voted to take our country back” and “Saudi Arabia go home.”

Sabri is Jordanian but has lived in London for six years. “It’s obviously connected to Brexit. People are taking it as an excuse to be rude to others,” she told the ES.

“It’s crazy. It’s not right. It’s a way to divide people. We are all human and it doesn’t matter if we were born under a different nationality or religion,” she added. “It suddenly really feels like I’m not from this country. Obviously I’m not from this country, but I felt like I belonged in London and now it feels like I should go home.”

In spite of her obvious discomfort over the occurrence, Sabri told the ES that she had asked police to drop charges before the hearing. “She’s a 70-year-old and was intoxicated,” she said. “It’s no excuse but I thought if I forgive her there’s more chance of me changing her mind about foreigners,” she added. “I just thought it was better energy to be forgiving—my work is about empathy.”

Sabri was able to repair the sculpture in time for it to be featured in the “Walking Women” program at London’s Somerset House.

In court, Haze said: “I plead guilty but I don’t consider it racist because it wasn’t at her, I promise you. I’m very sorry to the lady I offended.” She has posted conditional bail and awaits sentencing on July 26.


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