A controversial photography exhibition by French photographer Frédéric Sautereau which opened on Tuesday in the city Angoulême, France has created public debate over the photographer's decision to document Hamas activity in Gaza.
The disputed exhibition, titled "Hamas," has brought upon a public outcry from the Jewish community in France in light of the recent acts of anti-Semitism against French Jews, specifically last month's devastating massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Hamas participates in public protest Gaza (Photo: Frédéric Sautereau)
In effort to document Hamas's activity in Gaza, Sauterea told Ynet that he has visited the Gaza Strip seven times since 2009. The exhibition is the final product of his visits and was organized by the Palestinian Solidarity Project.
Izz ad Din-al Qassam Brigades guard the Israeli border. (Photo: Frédéric Sautereau)
"I decided to embark on this project because as a journalist I think it's important to understand Hamas and try and explain the organization's ideology and motives. Therefore, in my photos I try to present the political, military and social aspects of the organization," said Sauterea.
Sautereau's central themes are the dual notions of border and divide. He has previously documented the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in other exhibitions such as "Gaza: Was it worth a war" from 2009,
and has received the Fuji Prize for his work on the Israeli West Bank barrier in 2003.
Al Noor Park was built on the former settlement of Netzarim. (Photo: Frédéric Sautereau)
Some of the photographs in the "Hamas" exhibition portray the day-to-day lives of the Gaza residents, which are usually unfamiliar to most Israelis, while other photographs depict the destruction and distress in the area.
Although most of the photos portray Israel as the official cause for the pain and hardship of the Gazan people, some photos criticize Hamas - such as those depicting Gaza residents who have been forsaken due to their affiliation with Fatah.
Ahmad, member of the Ezzedeen Al-Qassam brigade with his son. (Photo: Frédéric Sautereau)
Photographs portraying Hamas's military activity against Israel are noticeably absent from the exhibition.
In response to Ynet's questions on the matter, Sautereau said that he explains the hostile relationship between the two parties in the exhibition's preamble and that the show primarily focuses on the Gaza Strip.
Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions of France, called for the exhibit's cancellation.
In an interview with a local French newspaper, Prasquier claimed that the "exhibit portrays Hamas in a positive light and is apologetic towards terror."
"Hamas was recognized as a terror organization by the European Union, the United States and Canada. Therefore the terrorist nature of this organization is not disputable," Prasquier said.
Wafaa, 56, demonstrates in front of the ICRC to show support for prisoners detained in Israeli prisons. (Photo: Frédéric Sautereau)
In response to Prasquier's public objection to the exhibition, Sautereau said that he does not understand the public protest against his work due to the fact that he had "mentioned the word 'terror' in relation to Hamas three different times" in his work, and more specifically "explained Hamas's role in the rocket attacks against Israel."
Sautereau further added that "Hamas is indeed filled with anti-Semitism, but is ready to recognize the State of Israel." He then called to hold an "intelligent debate" with Prasquier over the matter.
Prasquier further drew attention to the connection between the horrific massacre held at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March and the Hamas organization. He claimed that the ideology which stood behind gunmen Mohammed Merah's actions is similar to Hamas's ideology.
According to Prasquier, "This is not the time for this kind of exhibition. The Jewish community is still grieving over the casualties."
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