A group based in Claremont, California, has asked US Rep. Jose Luis 'Lou' Correa (D-CA) to remove a painting displayed at his office that depicts the iconic Statue of Liberty wearing a hijab -- traditional garb for Muslim women. “We the People Rising” decried Correa’s decision to keep the painting in his office; the group contends that it is unpatriotic and a violation of the separation of church and state. The painting was one of several works of art that were finalists in an art competition sponsored by Correa, a member of the Hispanic Caucus, and other Members of Congress.
The group’s complaint prompted Correa to consult the House Office of Legislative Counsel for advice, which reportedly told him that it has no issue with it. Despite the finding, We the People Rising plan to hold a protest at Correa’s office on September 11.
Mike McGertrick of We the People Rising stated that Correa should not have religious displays in his office. In a video produced by the group, McGertrick said “In this day and age, we want to see that our elected officials are the utmost of patriotism.” He added at a July 3 meeting with Correa’s district director, Claudio Gallegos, that the painting is “reprehensible and disrespectful.”
Correa wants to keep the painting on display despite complaints by his constituents. “This is an art competition for our high school students,” he said. “I want out students to express themselves through art. To take it down would signal that this is not welcome and that would send the wrong message.”
Like most members of the House, Correa holds an art competition in his district. The winner for his district was a photograph of a mural featuring Mexican American veterans from WWII. The Statue of Liberty painting finished fourth. Correa’s office has not released the name of the female artist who painted the hijab-draped Statue of Liberty nor the school she attends, claiming the office has received threats that are being investigated by the Capitol Police. Police have requested that the name of the artist be kept confidential for the artist’s safety.
We the People Rising has also submitted a complaint to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the painting.