Cardiff Council has scrapped a library exhibition documenting sport across religious divides. The photographs of lower-league football in Israel, previously displayed at the Guardian newspaper’s offices, emphasise peaceful co-operation between Jewish, Muslim and Christian players at grounds like Jerusalem’s fan-owned Ben Nordia Football Club. A complaint led to its cancellation after 24 hours, with the Council claiming that the Israeli setting shows bias. It also cited planned protests at the upcoming Wales-Israel game as a reason. Council opposition leader Judith Woodman said that she was appalled by what she saw as censorship and intends to pursue the matter, pointing out that disturbances in the city around the NATO summit didn’t cause its cancellation. A statement from photographers Vadim Tarasov and Gad Salner, whose project records football reaching out to communities in conflict, say that sport releases tensions and encourages diversity, while the Israeli Embassy’s Yiftah Curiel called it a boycott of co-existence and peace.
Cardiff Library agreed to host ‘Jewish-Arab football: diversity and coexistence through lower-league football’.
Which Was then promptly withdrawn becasue the pictures had been taken in Israel.
But a spokesperson for Cardiff Council said that ‘following a complaint’, the exhibition had been taken down less than 24 hours after it opened. ‘The Council is aware there are protests planned around the Wales Israel game at the weekend and this was taken into consideration,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Our libraries are buildings which promote free speech, but it was felt that running this exhibition could lead visitors to suppose that the Council was displaying bias.’ Judith Woodman, leader of the opposition at Cardiff Council, said that she was ‘appalled’ by the Council’s ‘shameful’ censorship and demanded an inquiry into how the decision was made. ‘Sport is non-political. We live in a democracy and have freedom of speech. By this action Cardiff Council have totally disregarded this,’ she said. ‘I intend to take matters further, not least with the Wales Audit Office. As a senior member of this shambolic administration I am aghast at what I have learnt this evening. ‘It is a disgraceful reflection on our city.’
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