“Rahim Blak” is a pseudonym taken from the name of Rahim, an emigrant from Kosovo.

Dozens of local residents of Salwator voiced their discomfort with the building of the facility at a conference on Wednesday night, Oct. 24, at the Auditorium Maximum. The audience, both Muslim and Christian, ranged from art students to the older local residents.

The artist wants it to be a place for intercultural discussion where average Poles can learn more about Islamic Culture an d also serve as a gathering place for the about 300 Islamic families living in the Malopolska Province.

Rahim sat in the front, prepared to present his views to the gathering and hear theirs.

An old man with his wife stood and complained that it was “different.” A younger member of the audience shouted back “By different do you mean bad?” The conference organizers stressed that being different was “the whole point.” It would be a unique addition to the art and culture scene in Krakow. “Rahim Blak” is philosophical about the planned construction. “The location of Al-Fan is still only a proposal. It’s like playing ping-pong. We propose a site. It gets rejected but eventually one will get through. You can’t assume that you will get acceptance on the first try.” He adds, “If the location of the center is the main problem, then there is really no problem at all.”

The conference began with a recitation from the Koran by Idris Sajjad. The hope was that this calming exposure to the Muslim religion would reassure the dissidents that the center would be an asset to the community.

Marta Raczek, an acclaimed art historian, talked about “art that can really have an impact.”

This included avant-garde art that made its way into public acceptance. Raczek added that “Rahim Blak’s” Islamic Center was not just another monument or “Duchamp fountain” but would enrich lives on many levels. Al-Fan, which means art in Arabic, would, she continued, appeal to a wider audience than “shocking modern art.”

Stanislaw Denko, a renowned Krakowian architect who designed Auditorium Maximum, is designing Al-Fan.

The proposal calls for space to hold art exhibitions as well as a lecture hall. This would be similar to Krakow’s Center of Japanese Art and Technology, Manggha. Another feature of Al-Fan would be a prayer room for the few Muslim’s residing in Krakow and the surrounding area.

“Rahim Blak” addressed the real concern of the nearby residents. Can Poles be accepting of a different religion and culture in their neighborhood? Muslims from around Poland agreed with an unidentified Muslim doctor from Silesia who stated, “We are Poles.” He stressed that he wanted this as a center that reflected his religion and did not want it taken over by fundamentalists.

“Rahim Blak” agreed that there was no place at the center for the intolerance and isolationism associated with Islamic Fundamentalism.

When asked by an art student, the artist admitted that the center is an excellent venue to promote “Rahim Blak’s” work but added that the goals extended to benefiting all of his “brothers.” “Rahim Blak” does not plan to run Al-Fan Center, just to set the idea into motion.

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