Egypt’s local news digest Sept. 6: Sculpture honoring fallen soldiers scandalizes Egyptians; school maintenance carried out ahead of new academic year
Mother of the Martyr depicts a slender peasant woman, a traditional artistic representation of Egypt, with her arms outstretched with a helmeted soldier standing behind her. Photograph: Mahmoud Ahmed/AP

CAIRO: No more browsing from site to site, view the top local news stories on Sept. 6 here:

 

Sculpture honoring fallen soldiers scandalizes Egyptians

(AP): A provincial governor in Egypt has ordered changes to a sculpture honouring fallen soldiers after complaints on social media said it appeared to depict an unwanted advance on a woman meant to symbolise the country.

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 Muslim-majority country.

The controversy over the sculpture, which made it to the national press, underlines the difficulties faced by artists and intellectuals in a country where Islamic religious conservatism has gained much ground over the past 40 to 50 years and where powerful state religious institutions frequently expound a hard-line message, despite their claims to moderation.

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 sculpture by the local council of the town of el-Belina. He said his provincial government should have been consulted before the 250,000 Egyptian pound ($28,400) sculpture was commissioned

“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 symbolizing peace will form a crescent over the woman’s head, he said.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Yani defended his work, rejecting any suggestions of impropriety and saying 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.”

 

45 Egyptians deported over illegal residence from Saudi Arabia, Italy and Greece

Cairo International Airport received Monday 45 Egyptians deported from Saudi Arabia, Greece and Italy over illegal residence and sneaking to countries borders, Youm7 reported.

Hundreds of Egyptians have been deported over similar circumstances over the past months.

Authorities have tightened security measures at borders, where hundreds of attempts by unregistered migrants to leave the country illegally have been foiled; however, many have succeeded to cross to neighbor states, especially Libya.

 

Completion of 80% of maintenance works at schools ahead of academic year: official

An official source at the Ministry of Education told Youm7 that around 80 percent of “simple” maintenance works at schools in governorates have been finalized ahead of the new school year that starts Sept.24.

The restoration works included fixing broken windows, checking on electricity, chairs and plumbing.

On the other hand, Deputy Head of Educational Buildings Authority Nayer Hamdy said that around 13,000 schools across the country need full maintenance.

 

Ministry allots 6 bln EGP to develop 141 hospitals: official

Head of Therapeutic Medicine department Ahmed Mohey told Youm7 that the Ministry of Health has allocated a total of 6 billion EGP for developing 141 hospitals across Egypt this year.

He added that the ministry also seeks to build hospitals with various disease specializations: chest, eye and others.

 

River Transport Authority raises emergency state ahead of Eid al-Adha

River Transport Authority has declared emergency state during the four-day Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice,) Youm7 reported.

The authority will heighten its control over boats, marinas, as well as will deploy inspectors to check on boats licenses and maintain they do not exceed determined loads.

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