A new Marvel comics find itself in the center of controversy as Indonesian readers of the series discovered symbols and veiled anti-Christian remarks hidden in the comics.
According to Heat Street, Indonesian Muslim artist Ardian Syaf concealed remarks about the current political climate issue in his country and referenced protests against the Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in some of his illustrations in the new "X-Men Gold."
Purnaman is Jakarta's embattled governor facing a trial on charges of blasphemy. He is a Christian and of Chinese descent, which placed him at odds with some of the more conservative Muslims in Indonesia's capital.
In one of the comic panels, Colossus is seen wearing a shirt with the numbers QS 5:51, said Bleeding Cool. The letters and numbers are said to refer to a verse in the Koran, Islam's sacred book.
"O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people," the verse stated.
In 2016, the governor said that he believed his political enemies used the verse to trick his supporters. This statement of Purnaman earned him the ire of some Muslims which led to the mass protest on Dec. 12, 2016, also known as "212."
Another panel shows Kitty Pryde talking to a crowd with a building in the background containing the numbers 212.
It was reported that Syaf included the anti-Christian references to the illustrations after he took part in the rally against the governor.
Marvel has cleared the controversy regarding the incident and explained that the hidden messages in "X-Men Gold" were included without the company's awareness and permission.
"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," said Marvel to ComicBook.com in a statement.
The company further added that all the references will be removed from succeeding versions of the comic, both digital and printed.
It also mentioned that disciplinary steps have been taken against the Indonesian artist. No update regarding Syaf's employment in Marvel has been given as of this writing.