Up in arms over cud­dle

Back­lash over sculp­ture in Egypt

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

A pro­vin­cial gover­nor in Egypt has or­dered changes to a sculp­ture hon­our­ing fallen sol­diers af­ter many on so­cial media said it ap­peared to de­pict an un­wanted ad­vance on a wo­man.

The con­crete sculp­ture, ti­tled Mother of the Mar­tyr, de­picts a slen­der peas­ant wo­man, a tra­di­tional artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Egypt, with her arms out­stretched.

A hel­meted sol­dier is stand­ing be­hind her, look­ing over her shoul­der with his arms wrapped around her.

Res­i­dents of So­hag, where the sculp­ture stands at a pub­lic square in a pro­vin­cial town but has not been for­mally un­veiled, com­plained that it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate. So­hag and other south­ern prov­inces are more conservative than the rest of the coun­try.

Some crit­ics of the So­hag statue, which stands at 8.5m high, said in their so­cial media com­ments that the sculp­ture por­trayed sex­ual ha­rass­ment while others in­ter­preted it as the coun­try’s mil­i­tary se­duc­ing Egypt as rep­re­sented by the peas­ant wo­man. That the sculp­ture stood close to a girls’ school fu­elled op­po­si­tion.

So­hag’s gover­nor, Ay­man Ab­del-Mon­aim, has or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the com­mis­sion­ing of the 250,000 Egyp­tian pound (Dhs100,000) sculp­ture by the lo­cal coun­cil of the town of El Belina. “Some­times, an artist’s vi­sion clashes with the cul­ture of so­ci­ety,” he said. “If our ob­jec­tive is to treat cit­i­zens with re­spect then we must not do any­thing to of­fend their feel­ings.

“We all re­spect our army and coun­try.”

The sculp­tor, Wagih Yani, 60, has be­gun mod­i­fy­ing the sculp­ture, re­mov­ing the sol­dier and plac­ing an olive branch in the hands of the wo­man. White doves sym­bol­is­ing peace will form a cres­cent over the wo­man’s head, he said.

But Yani also de­fended his work, re­ject­ing any sug­ges­tions of im­pro­pri­ety and say­ing the sol­dier rep­re­sented the “spirit of the mar­tyr” pro­tect­ing Egypt.

TWEAKED: The statue is be­ing mod­i­fied af­ter crit­ics said it looked like the wo­man was be­ing ha­rassed

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