Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Sculpture honouring military to be changed after being criticised for portraying sexual harassment

An Egyptian artist has been forced to change a sculpture honouring fallen soldiers after it was criticised as apparently depicting sexual harassment. Mother of the Martyr features a slender peasant woman, a common representation of Egypt, being held by a helmeted soldier.

But residents in the city of the Sohag claim it is inappropriate. The concrete statue, located close to a girls' school in the city, has yet to be formally unveiled. Along with criticism of an apparent unwanted advance on a woman, others suggest the 8.5-metre-tall artwork depicts Egypt's military seducing the country.

The governor of Sohag, Ayman Abdel-Monaim, has ordered an investigation into the commissioning of the statue. The controversy underlines the difficulties faced by artists in the country, analysts say. Sculptor Wagih Yani, 60, is now modifying his work, 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. Mr Yani has defended his work, saying he rejected suggestions of impropriety and insisting the soldier represented the "spirit of the martyr" protecting Egypt. "I remain convinced of the sculpture's original idea and the modifications will not steer far from that," he said. "But I personally feel that it's important to me that everyone is happy with the sculpture."

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