Sign-wearing man expelled from exhibit of Dead Sea Scrolls

Staff WriterJanuary 4, 2009 

— A self-described "provocative social activist" was expelled from the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Science after refusing to remove a sign criticizing Israel.

D.J. Register of Durham drew complaints at the museum Friday with a sign on his shirt saying "Remember Palestinan Oppression," "Boycott Israel" and "Don't Buy Dead Sea Scroll Tickets."

Museum officials say Register's statement was considered protesting in a state government building without a permit. But Register said he was only exercising his personal opinion.

"The people paid good money to see the exhibit," said Emelia Cowans, a museum spokeswoman. "He was ruining their experience."

The scrolls offer a glimpse of the formative years of Judaism and Christianity. The Dead Sea Scrolls are in the possession of the Israel Antiquities Authority and routinely travel to museums.

The exhibit, which ends at the museum today, has drawn crowds since it came to Raleigh in late June. Cowans said Friday's incident was the only time someone has been expelled from the exhibit.

Register said he attended because an 80-year-old friend wanted to see the scrolls. He drove her.

Register said he was concerned about the high price of the exhibit tickets and that the money might be used by Israel for its military operations.

Israeli forces have invaded the Gaza Strip after Hamas rocket attacks on the country.

Register said the statement doesn't constitute a political protest. When he refused to remove it, Capitol Police escorted him out.

When Register left, so did his friend who had paid for the tickets. The money was refunded.

"I never thought that my statement would have us being denied admission and expelled," he said.

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

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