Qatar: Artist MF Husain trades Indian passport for Qatari one

The Internet is abuzz with news that controversial Indian artist MF Husain, 95, has accepted a rare offer of citizenship from Qatar, a tiny conservative country in the Arabian Gulf.

“I, the Indian origin painter M.F. Husain at 95, have been honoured by Qatar nationality,” the artist wrote in a sketch published by the widely read English-language Indian daily The Hindu, which broke the news.

Husain, arguably one of India’s greatest painters, has been working in Qatar on a project involving the history of Arab civilization at the behest of the country’s first lady, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Misned.

The conferment of citizenship has surprised many as Husain faces numerous obscenity charges in his home country, which he left in 2006 after nude paintings of Hindu deities he produced in the 1970s were brought to light, spurring protests, vandalism and threats.

On Twitter, @Iveegee said:

This is bizarre news. What does Qatar stand to gain from giving him citizenship?

N. Ram, a journalist for The Hindu, called the development “an honour to Mr. Husain, to his artistic genius, and to the India-rooted civilisational values he represents. Nevertheless, it is a sad day for India.

On the popular online forum Qatar Living, the news generated 116 comments before the site was shut down for maintenance over the weekend.

Some applauded Qatar, a Muslim monarchy's support of artistic freedom, while others wondered where India, a secular democracy, went wrong.

Commenter Landcruiser_Qatar said:

Very talented person and crappy countrymen running hate campaign. Hats off to MF Hussain.

Thoufy said:

is this democracy….?????? is this democracy….?????? Very Shame to our country…

Husain's exile from India is admittedly self-imposed, and Indian politicians are saying he is free to come and go as he pleases.

However, as dual citizenship is not possible in his home country, Husain will have to give up his Indian passport to become a Qatari.

In India, Twitterati have been responding to the news with a steady stream of messages, ranging from penitent to petulant.

@gurgaonharyana said:

m f hussain accepts qatar citizenship.big loss for india.we r such jerks.

@gulpanag said:

So Hussein accepts Qatar citizenship.Well,if his country of origin cannot guarantee his safety/wellbeing,he does have a case.

@rajizm said:

if he so couregeous let him paint some muslim painting in qatar nude and u will see he is dead next moment

What kind of freedom of expression Husain will be afforded in Qatar remains to be seen.

Qatar Living commenter heero_yuy2 said:

I hope he won't have a hard time florishing his artistry here if we still even have some trouble on media freedom around here.

And svelte_saggi said:

Anytime that religion has been represented as art in a derogatory manner,it has ended in chaos.


  • muji

    mf hussain is best. he did great job by switching his nationalty. who would live in india? all volient

  • RAS

    This old beggar need tax exception at this age, that is the reason he has selected middle east. let him die else where

  • Nanak Ghatalia

    Mr Hussain,

    All artists of calibre are generally very highly cultured. Where is your culture. I dare you to paint prophet Muhammad in the nude in your new host country.

    I am not a Hindu but I can say this much that you are not worthy of any respect after those despicable paintings you have made.


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  • HP

    1. Representing India as a woman being raped, is nothing but terrible denigration. For an Indian, ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India) is a Goddess and not some figurative concept and showcasing her in this manner is highly outrageous and a completely unacceptable form of denigration.

    2. It would be appropriate to ask MF Husain if he would have dared to make a similar painting had there been an attack on the UK, the UAE or Qatar and named it the ‘Rape of UK, UAE or Qatar’ ? (Husain has recently become a citizen of Qatar)

    3. What is MF Husain’s sick fascination for having sex with animals ? Why does he repeatedly superimpose his dirty minded eroticism on Deities ?

    4. Why has he split the canvas in half ? Does he want to suggest that India will spilt ? Why this divisive implication that India will crumble under attack ?

    5. Why has he painted the blood that has been spilt in the colour green ? And also the two bulls with green faces. The offenders of the cowardly terrorist attacks that India is facing, are the people who are symbolized by the colour green, and not the other way around. Does he expect the Islamisation of India ?

    6. India has been wounded by innumerable terrorist attacks. Instead of expressing her pain, MF Husain has humiliated her and has added insult to her injury by showing her being raped and that too with the perverted suggestion of an animal straddling her and of a man pulling at her blouse and staring at her breast.

    7. If MF Husain is truly an artist (as claimed by the artist community) and that all his thoughts about being outraged by terrorism were genuine, then why does he not paint others being nude and having sex with animals ? But as we have observed he depicts only India and Hindus in this manner.

    8. Thus, for these reasons this painting is unacceptable to an Indian and it hurts and rapes our sensibilities.

  • Yes Art should not have boundaries but Art should not disrespect other persons belief. If MF is free artist he should paint all painting in similar fashion but if you see his painting you can see partiality.
    If you saw his paintings about his family and religion he always respect his family and disrespect Indian God and India as a country

    He always got inspired to paint India God Mother India, but he never painted nude his own mother or daughter.

  • Nanak Ghatalia

    Mr Hussain’s nude paintings have nothing to do with freedom and art. It is very clearly his biases which have come out in the open. If he has such audacity then surely we do not need him and will not miss him. Indian culture and art stands on its own and not on Mr Hussain’s shoulders. I would have thought that an elederly artist would be a mature and cultured man but Mr Hussain has proved that he is neither. Thank you for leaving India Mr Hussain. Be asured that India will survive and flourish without you.

  • Gopal Reddy

    Bad for an old white haired frail man to be ostracised. But the real thing is to each and every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. But a person does something out of may be hatred, or ill-will, jealousy or any such ill mannered action for this he gets the same coin returned to him. I think he has a hatred stored in his frail brain but couldnt show off due to some scare. So he exhibits in his paintings. There is a saying every road leads to Rome, so does every religion leads to God. Respect for other religions is the way of life for a devout person. May atleast his soul rest in peace after his very near end, because he has hurt so many hearts in his motherland that he needs some very powerful blessings for his satanic mind and body.

  • Manoj

    He must be punished for his hasty work:-) his paintings clearly indicates his hate towards hindus, he doesnt deserves to be an indian:-)

  • Sourav

    No individual will accept any Nationality if he truly loves his own nation, even if he is in exile. You can get the example of any Pakistani or people of any origin in exile. No one has changed his nationality.

    By this we can understand to what extent he loved his nation, in fact hated.
    We must rejoice his citizenship, he deserved what he got. Got a penny [Qatar] loosing millions [India] .

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