BRUSSELS — An art museum in Brussels canceled plans to stage a boxing match between police and local athletes on Thursday evening, saying it received threats on social media.
The MIMA contemporary art museum in Molenbeek had planned to host a sparring session between around 20 amateur boxers from the Ixelles branch of the Brussels police and two local boxing clubs in an on-site boxing ring.
But the museum canceled at the last minute, citing “tensions on social media,” in a post on its website which added that it took this decision for the safety of the museum and its artistic directors, after receiving threats.
On Facebook, some had argued that the event presented police as citizens’ natural adversaries, while others complained that it made the police look good and ignored victims of police violence.
The museum had framed the event as “a festive encounter, giving a thrashing to the prejudices that can exist between police and citizens.”
“Many comments bemoaned that this was not taken as an occasion to debate police violence, others went as far as claiming that the aim was to offer an over-indulgent image of the police,” MIMA wrote in its blog post.
The museum argued that the real goal of the event was about overcoming prejudice.
Mohamed Maalem from the Brussels Boxing Academy, which was going to take part in the event, said he understood MIMA’s decision, but added: “I really found it a shame that it was canceled. MIMA’s idea was to make possible a meeting between police and young people.”
The event was meant to be part of a four-month exhibition called Local Heroes where visitors can interact with skilled boxers who are training and sparring around the museum, and which continues until late May. It has received mixed reviews, with cultural magazine BRUZZ saying it was “no knockout.”