Marvel comics has removed a book from circulation after a fan backlash against some Koranic messages in the artwork.
In two vignettes of X-Men Gold #1, Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf coloured several hidden references to passages of the Koran and to Muslim protests against the Christian governor of Jakarta.
The verses were referenced using numbers in two different illustrations.
They were perceived as intolerant by some fans, who complained to Marvel about what they called “anti-Christian and anti-Jewish messages”.
On Saturday, Marvel issued a statement to Sky News denying previous knowledge of the hidden messages and adding “disciplinary action is being taken”.
“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings,” Marvel said.
Marvel assured Sky that “the 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”.
“This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken,” they added.
In the book, Jewish X-Men character Kitty Pryde is seen talking to a crowd, with the “Jew” portion of the word “Jewellery” over her head, and the numbers 212 and 51 in the background.
The number 212 is often used as a reference to the Muslim protest against the Christian governor of Jakarta on 2 December 2016, which the artist admitted on his Facebook page to draw inspiration from.
“This is a special memory for me,” he wrote in response to online criticism.
“The number is a peace act, when a governor did blasphemy to our holy book,” he added.
“I don’t hate Jews or Christians, I worked with them for 10 years. A lot of good friends too. For all that happened I apologise sincerely.” he wrote.
The numbers “5:51” are seen in another vignette of the comic book as well. They are on a top that Russian mutant Colossus is wearing while hitting a ball with a bat.
They reference a Koranic passage which reads: “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the 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 was used by Jakarta’s governor in 2016, and led to mass protests by the country’s conservative Muslim population.
Contacted by Sky News, Marvel has not yet revealed if the artist will continue to collaborate in the X-Men Gold series, or what kind of disciplinary action has been taken.