POLITICS

Amir Khadir's Dead Jean Charest Art Sparks Debate (PHOTO)

06/12/2012 01:44 EDT | Updated 08/12/2012 05:12 EDT
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MONTREAL - An artistic parody is drawing sharply different responses in Quebec, depending on whom you ask.

Police found a likeness of Premier Jean Charest, dead, on a printed leaflet when they entered the home last week of rival politician Amir Khadir, a Quebec MNA. The premier's body is laid out at Khadir's feet.

It's a parody of an 1830 painting by Eugene Delacroix, "Liberty Guiding The People," which depicted a scene from the French Revolution.

The altered painting is being used as a promotional item by a local rock band. The parody version puts Khadir in the role of a gun-toting revolutionary. It also shows a police officer on his knees, crouching before a man dressed in a banana suit, a real-life costumed protester who was recently arrested.

Khadir, the sole elected member of the tiny Quebec solidaire party, says it's a parody — just like a recent newspaper column in the Journal de Quebec that depicts him as a left-wing dictator.

He appeared more upset Tuesday over a front-page headline about that poster, in the same newspaper. The headline said, "Khadir Armed, Charest Dead."

"As far as I know Jean Charest is very much alive and I hope he stays that way for a long time," Khadir told parliamentary reporters in Quebec City.

"All I want for Jean Charest is to lose his elections."

Khadir's wife laughed when asked about the item.

"It's an album liner for the music group Mise En Demeure. Go see it on the Internet. It will make you smile, too," Nima Machouf told reporters at the Montreal courthouse, after a bail hearing for the couple's daughter Tuesday.

But some of Charest's cabinet ministers say it's not funny at all. One called it disgusting Tuesday. Another said it's the kind of thing that could give a disturbed person some ideas.

Police found the item, covered in glass, on a kitchen table when they entered the Khadir family home last week. They were there to arrest the politician's teenage daughter in connection with a series of illegal acts allegedly committed at recent protests.

Police mentioned the item in court this week during a bail hearing.

It's not the only case of artists making dark references to the premier lately, during the student unrest. Some musicians have even created a dance track using a chant commonly heard at protests — one that describes "Charest in a trunk."

That's a reference to Pierre Laporte, a cabinet minister killed by the terrorist FLQ group in 1970. The dance tune was among several posted on a website by Quebec's equivalent of Much Music, under the headline: "Songs for the student cause!"

amir khadir dead jean charest

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