Up in arms over cuddle
Backlash over sculpture in Egypt
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