The company said the actions of Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf “are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation.”
Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf added the images, which have been described as anti-Christian and anti-Semitic, in two of the panels of the newest comic in Marvel’s X-Men series. Indonesia is world’s most populous Muslim country.
“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings,” Marvel said in a statement over the weekend. “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.”
Indonesians on Reddit first noticed hidden images in several of the panels following the comic's release in that country. They urged other comic book fans to share them and bring them to Marvel's attention.
“As a non-Muslim living in Indonesia, it is so saddening how a bigoted, minority-hating conservative Muslim was able to work with Marvel and use Marvel comics as their platform to channel their bigotry and hatred toward minorities in Indonesia,” wrote Reddit user Kinda1994Guy. “Many people, especially minorities read X-Men to seek refuge from the narrative championed by bigoted and hateful groups. This is so disheartening.”
The first panel with a hidden message shows a group of X-Men playing baseball, focusing on Colossus as he hits the ball.
In the image, he’s wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “QS 5:51,” an apparent reference to a specific verse, Qur’an 5:51, or Al Maidah verse 51, that has been championed by Islamist politicians in Indonesia.
While the verse translates to, “O you have believed, do not take the Jews and Christians as allies,” it has been interpreted with a decidely political slant in Indonesia. “Indonesian translation of the verse states that ‘Muslims should not appoint the Jews and Christians as their leader,’” an Indonesian comic book fan wrote on Reddit over the weekend. “The Qur’anic verse is being used by Islamists to prevent the reelection of a Christian governor of Jakarta.”