Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, has removed a statue depicting a headbutt attack by footballer Zinedine Zidane after an outcry by conservatives who condemned it as anti-Islam idolisation.
The five-metre sculpture depicting the France footballer attacking Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final was put on display on Doha’s corniche on October 3.
But the statue, sculpted by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed, appears to have offended Muslim conservatives, who saw it as a violation of religious tenets.
It was removed on Monday, according to local newspapers.
“Congratulations for having new idols,” wrote one tweeter sarcastically, as the Arabic hashtag “Zidane’s statue in Qatar” triggered huge reaction from dismayed conservatives.
“It is sad that our youth see in this art and modernity. Our children do not differentiate between the right and the wrong, or the haram (prohibited) and the halal (permissible),” wrote another.
To avoid the possibility of idolisation, Islamic jurisprudence prohibits statues of human beings and animals.
Although some Muslim countries display statues in public, conservative Gulf nations mostly do not.
Saudi municipal authorities in June smashed sculptures of horses erected on a roundabout in the southwestern Jazan province after the kingdom’s top cleric Abdulaziz al-Shaikh wrote to the local governor demanding their removal for being a “great sin”.
The Qatar Museum Authority bought the “Coup de Tete” sculpture after it was put on display earlier outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
It was also reportedly displayed between July and September in Italy’s coastal town of Pietrasanta.
QMA reportedly said at the time that the sculpture was planned to be a permanent fixture on the corniche.
Doha News website said the statue would now join Abdessemed’s collection that was on display in the Arab Museum of Modern Art, citing QMA chief marketing officer Kimberly French.
The Museum is hosting until January 4 an exhibition by Abdessemed entitled “L’age d’or”, featuring drawings, paintings, sculptures and videos.