Intellectuals denounce preacher’s call for destroying statues

Intellectuals and writers have lashed out at Islamic preacher Youssef al-Badry’s call to destroy statues because he considers them idols.

The private Sada al-Balad news website had quoted Badry, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, which is associated with the Endowments Ministry, as saying on Sunday that destroying the statues in Egypt is a religious duty to prevent sedition and the return to idol worship. Badry also noted that Prophet Mohamed destroyed the idols that were around the Kaaba in Mecca for that purpose.

Intellectuals called Badry “ignorant” and Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Ali said he only recognizes fatwas issued by Al-Azhar.

Writer Gamal al-Ghitany called Badry’s statements terrifying, saying, “It is expected, for the Muslim Brotherhood is now ruling.” He added that Egypt has 60 percent of the world’s antiquities and that calls like this would destroy tourism. “UNESCO should pressure the Brotherhood government not to allow such things.”

Such please kill man’s appreciation of art, writer Mahfouz Abdel Rahman said. “We will become cows if we lose that appreciation.”

“The early Muslims did not do that,” said writer Youssef al-Qaeed, contending that Badry was close to ousted President Hosni Mubarak and is now seeking some high post with the government by issuing such fatwas.

He added that the whole world stood against Afghanistan when the Taliban destroyed Buddhist statues. “It made them think of rebuilding them,” he said.

Former Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour argued that the Brotherhood would not allow something like this to protect the tourism industry. “It is the other extremist groups that we should fear,” he said.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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