Bungled statue restorations bring Egypt’s great and good down to size

1 / 3
The Khedive Ismail statue in Ismailia was left looking like a parody after a botched paint job. (Social media)
2 / 3
A statue of the Egyptian army general, the Martyr Abdel Moneim Riad, was badly damaged while being transported in Port Said. (Social media)
3 / 3
A depiction of the writer Mahmoud Abbas Al-Akkad was left disfigured after restoration for in Aswan. (Social media)
Updated 24 August 2018
0

Bungled statue restorations bring Egypt’s great and good down to size

  • In Egypt, a series of representations of the country’s great and good, have become objects of ridicule after local authorities carried out botched restoration work
  • Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdel Dayem has formed a committee composed of arts experts to investigate

EGYPT: They are supposed to be symbols of greatness, odes to the successful, musings on the powerful.
A towering bronze cast of a leading thinker or a once great military general hued from marble is designed to stir emotions of respect, national pride or a moment of introspection.
But in Egypt, a series of representations of the country’s great and good, have become objects of ridicule after local authorities carried out botched restoration work.
The bronze statue of Khedive Ismail Pasha, the 19th Century Ottoman ruler of Egypt and Sudan, is the latest to fall foul of cack-handed workmen.
The statue shows the leader, who oversaw a great modernization of the country, standing proudly in his uniform. But the figure has been clumsily painted over in black and white, making the once great Khedive appear more like a character in a B-movie horror picture.
Images of the statue have been widely circulated and ridiculed on social media in Egypt. The statue, located in the city of Ismailia, has also drawn angry comments from the community as well as Egyptian officials.
Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdel Dayem has formed a committee composed of arts experts and the national organization of civilization at the Ministry of Culture to investigate what went wrong with the restoration work.
“The ministry stands against all attempts to distort the public statues and will work to restore the statue to its origin,” Abdel-Daeem said.
The Governor of Ismailia, Yassin Tahir, has launched an urgent investigation to find out who was responsible. He stressed that the statue symbolizes the history of Ismailia, and commissioned cultural officials in the province to coordinate with officials of the Ministry of Culture and to restore the statue to its original color and preserve its historical character.
“This statue uses special materials for paint, which we have used since it was erected in 2006, and we use it annually in the maintenance process. However, developers this year used these materials incorrectly,” he said.
The statue is located at the intersection of Al-Thalathini and Mohammed Ali Street and the entrance to Al-Blajat Road. About 7m tall, it stands on a 2m platform.
It is not the first time there has been controversy over the treatment of statues representing Egyptia historical figures in recent years. Last April, there was anger when four statues in Alexandria of Egyptian icons were moved in a rubbish van and a lorry.
One depicted Hassan Al-Iskandarani, known as the Prince of the Sea, another was of Sayed Darwish, the Egyptian musical pioneer, Abdullah Al-Nadim, one of the leaders of the Oraby Revolution in 1881, and Refaa Al-Tahtawi, a famous education reformer.
In another incident, a statue of the Martyr Abdel Moneim Riad, a former general of the Egyptian army, was fractured while being transported in Port Said. An investigation was launched and the governor had to apologize to the general’s family. The district chief responsible at that time lost his job.
The incident took place at a time when parliament was passing a bill to criminalize insults to historical symbols in Egypt, increasing the punishment to up to five years’ imprisonment.
In 2016, former prime minister Sharif Ismail banned the restoration of statues without the consent and cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Antiquities.
The decision came after a crisis caused by a statue called “Mother of the Martyr” in September 2016 in Sohag, 400km south of Cairo, showing a soldier embracing a woman from behind. It was criticized on social media for showing sexual harassment.
There was also anger in Aswan after restoration work to a figure of the famous writer Abbas Mahmoud Al-Akkad in November 2015 led to its disfigurement.
In Zagazig, the statue of Ahmed Oraby, the historical leader, was widely mocked after officials turned it green during a restoration.
The statue of Rifa’a Al-Tahtawi, an Egyptian scholar, in Tahta in the Sohag governorate, was condemned as unrecognizable by citizens of the city.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
0

Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.