"X-Men Gold" artist Ardian Syaf has addressed the controversy surrounding the religious and political references he inserted into the debut issue of the Marvel Comics series, insisting, "I don't hate Christian or Jew."
The comments, from screenshots of an exchange Syaf posted overnight on Facebook, come after readers spotted in "X-Men Gold" #1 references to the Dec. 2, 2016, protests in Indonesia against Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian who's been accused of blasphemy against the Quran. Syaf, who's Indonesian, depicted longtime X-Men character wearing a T-shirt that reads “QS 5:51,” meaning Quran Surah 5:51, a passage apparently commonly translated in Indonesian as “Muslims should not appoint the Jews and Christians as their leader.” ("Ms. Marvel" writer G. Willow Wilson, a Muslim, disputes that interpretation on a post on her website.)
The numbers 212 and 51 are seen elsewhere in the issue, referring to the Dec. 2 protests and the Quran passage, respectively.
As CBR reported earlier, Marvel was swift to respond to the controversy, saying, “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." The publisher's statement said that "disciplinary action" is being taken against the artist.
In his social-media exchange, Syaf confirmed the numbers in "X-Men Gold" #1 refer to the December protests and to Purnama's alleged blasphemy. "I told all Marvel the truth [sic] meaning of the number," he wrote, "let's see how Marvel will act."
Syaf's previous credits include Marvel's "Captain Britain and MI-13" and "X-Men: Manifest Destiny Nightcrawler," and DC's "Batgirl," "Brightest Day" and "Superman/Batman."