BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA Staff Reporter
A misunderstanding about permit requirements for public art has a North Side Islamic group calling for an apology from an alderman facing a runoff Tuesday.
The Chicago chapter of the Islamic Center of North America says Ald. Bernie Stone (50th) acted inappropriately last week when he stopped the painting of a peace mural by an internationally known artist and a group of 20 high school students.
Muralist Mohammed Ali was in Chicago through a program with the Arts Council of England, said Mahmood Khan, ICNA president. On Friday morning, he and the teens were painting a skyline and the word “salaam,” which means “peace,” on the side of ICNA’s building in the 6200 block of North California when Stone drove up and shut down the project.
“We didn’t know we needed a permit,” Khan said. “This is a piece of artwork, not for commercial purposes.”
Khan said he’s also concerned because of comments from Stone that implied the letter “m” in the mural looked like the World Trade Center towers crumbling after the 9/11 attacks.
“I said some of the people were complaining that’s what it looks like,”
Stone said. “I’m not making an issue of it — it’s a sign, it’s more
than 25 feet in height, more than 100 square feet. It needs a permit.”
Stone said he’d be willing to introduce the permit request to the City
Council, but the approval process would take six to eight weeks.