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December 18, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017 - ,, No comments

Islamist iconoclast attacks statue in Sétif, Algeria

Faiza Mostafa, an Alegerian journalist based in Paris, France, has published an account of a new attack against culture, this time in Sétif, Algeria.  Earlier this morning, a sledgehammer-wielding Islamist iconoclast attacked the emblematic Ain El Fouara Fountain by French sculptor Francis de Saint-Vidal, chiseling away at parts of the statue. 

Mostafa wrote on her Facebook page:

Reminiscent of the Taliban’s attacks on the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan and ISIS attacks in Syria and Iraq,  the culprit, dressed in a qamis, was caught in the act as he pounded furiously on the iconic fountain statue. Apprehended by authorities, he obliterated the statue's face and breasts while a crowd gathered below, some of whom filmed the incident as it was happening.

A second video, taken from another angle, shows the angry crowd in Sétif, Algeria taking action against the vandal from a safe distance, hurling multiple objects, including a police baton, from a relatively safe distance.  This was done perhaps out of concern for being struck themselves or out of concern that the culprit might have explosives.

At one point the vandal turns to retaliate against the crowd, attempting to strike out at the citizens intervening, only to angrily return to hammering away at the hundred-year-old artwork, not solely to the statue's breasts and face.

Shortly thereafter, another civilian, dressed in striped jogging pants, approaches the man while swinging a shovel and twice attempts to strike him in response to his actions.

This counter-attack allowed police the window of opportunity to scale the fountain base and ultimately apprehend the Islamist before he could do further damage.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that the statue of a naked French woman gracing a fountain fifty meters from the central mosque of Sétif has been the subject of religious controversy and mistreatment. 

In 2015, an imam from a mosque 71 miles away in Aba Dhar El-Ghifari, El Khroub, told his followers, "Beware of you if you prostrate yourself before anyone other than God, beware of prostrating yourself before the statue of Ain Fouara." In his sermon about sinful (Arabic: haram) actions which constituted apostasy (Arabic: kofr), the imam signalled that it was wrong for the faithful to drink water from the treacherous fountain, as to do so could be considered bowing in prostration before the image of a nude woman. 

On February 28, 2006 another young man also attempted to deface the statue with a hammer, and in the early morning hours of April 22, 1997 the fountain was broken in several places after dynamite was placed at the base of the statue, toppling her over.

Another incident, captured by Google Streetview.