A PICTURE depicting a Muslim pointing a gun has been taken down from the walls of Harrow Arts Centre.

Harrow Council has taken the decision to remove the picture from an exhibition by pupils from Nower Hill High School following complaints from residents.

The picture depicts the woman wearing a hijab holding a hand gun. She has Arabic script written on her face, and Ghulam Rabbani, general secretary of Harrow Central Mosque, warned it could lead to race hate and persecution of Muslim women.

Today, Councillor Chris Mote, who is in charge of culture in Harrow, released a statement about the picture being taken down.

He said: “Harrow Council has decided to take down this image by following a complaint received by Harrow Arts Centre and complaints passed to councillors.

"Clearly Harrow Council regrets if any viewers were upset by this image. There is is often a difficult balance to be struck between the right to comment and the sensibilities of the audience, particularly where the use of local authority-funded buildings is concerned.

“On this occasion Harrow Council believes removing the picture to avoid any further possible offence is the correct decision."

He explained the picture had been created a teenager of Asian descent, and had been intended as a comment on the pressures faced by young women, referencing famous Iranian artist Shirin Neshat.

But Marion Davey, an artist who takes classes at the centre, in Uxbridge Road, said she was “shocked and disturbed” to see the image hanging on the walls of a public gallery.

She accused the council of hypocrisy for allowing this picture, but ordering five paintings depicting nude figures be taken down from a public exhibition in October before it had even opened over fears they would offend children and members of different faith groups.

Artists were furious they had been “censored” by the council, and called for clarification on what could and could not be shown in the public areas of the arts centre.

Cllr Mote said the nude paintings decision had been taken according to government guidelines, and the latest controversy will put the council under increased pressure to clear up what the guidelines are.