Freelance contributor Ardian Syaf, an Indonesian Muslim illustrator, waded into an ongoing political firestorm in his homeland by adding locally significant numerals into separate panels of the first edition of X-Men Gold.
The artwork in question apparently makes reference to verses from the Qu’ran which one politician has used in the past to support claims that the religion is intolerant towards others.
Marvel released the following statement via comicbook.com:
‘The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.’
Syaf added in the numbers after attending protests against Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is himself facing legal action for making blasphemous comments about the verses from the Islamic holy book.
One image features Jewish character Kitty Pryde next to a sign for a jewellery shop with the word ‘Jew’ prominently featured. In the same scene, a building number is displayed showing ‘212’, which is the date (2 December) when protests were held in Jakarta against Purnama.
Another panel from the comic book has Russian mutant Colossus playing baseball in a t-shirt with ‘QS 5:51’ emblazoned across it. The letters and numbers are said to relate to a verse from the Qu’ran which has been interpreted in some quarters as a warning to Muslims not to trust Jewish or Christian leaders.
Some commentators have highlighted how the verse in question is different in local Indonesian translations of the Qu’ran from the original Arabic text.