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Hundreds of protesters have signed a petition to get a council hoarding removed that advertises Brick Lane as the ‘Olympic 2012 Curry Capital’—because they say it obstructs a view of an iconic wall painting by an internationally-renowned artist.

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They accuse Tower Hamlets council of “incredible short-sightedness” for erecting the hoarding obscuring Roa’s giant mural of a crane bird on the side of a building in Hanbury Street.

“Everyday hundreds of people are captivated by a beautiful artwork,” says the online petition. “The artist, whose work sells out in galleries across the world, asked nothing in return, an incredibly selfless gift to the people of East London.

“To recklessly take it away from the people of London is incredibly short-sighted.

“It suggests the council sees no place in our community for art and creative freedom, but only for advertisements with financial gain.”

Campaigners argue that visitors to the area are already aware it is famous for its curry houses and do not need a banner telling them where they are. The curry restaurants can be seen before reaching Hanbury Street from any direction, they point out.

The banner is one of several erected temporarily by the council which promises they’ll be removed after the Olympics.

Tower Hamlets was “preparing to welcome the world to our streets,” a Town Hall spokesman said. The banners reflected the East End’s pride that Brick Lane has been designated the official 2012 Curry Capital.

But that cuts no ice with those who’ve signed the petition.

Jane Young wrote: “Peter Roa’s street artwork is an integral part of the fabric of Brick Lane and Spitalfields and is a well loved landmark. This important piece of East End history should not be obliterated.”

B Band commented: “It is morally wrong of a council to decide to cover a piece of art with advertising.”

Luc Benyon added: “I’ve already emailed the Mayor.”

The online petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/tower-hamlets-council-save-the-crane had 250 signatures in the first few hours.

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