Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced on Wednesday a ban on building new statues or renovating existing ones without approval from the culture and antiquities ministries, according to a statement published on the cabinet website.
Ismail’s decision comes in the wake of a series of questionable statues being erected and others undergoing controversial renovations.
The decision is a result of “the repeated setting up in the country’s squares of bad statues that do not conform with Egypt’s deep-rooted history,” state-owned Ahram Online quoted an unnamed cabinet official as saying.
Last year, a bust of Queen Nefertiti placed at the entrance of a city in Upper Egypt attracted widespread attention and mockery for being “ugly” and “looking like Frankenstein,” despite the Ancient Egyptian queen being known for her beauty.
Most recently, social media was abuzz with mockery of a statue depicting a soldier hugging a woman from behind that was set up in a town in Sohag. While the statue was intending to show a “martyred soldier hugging his mother,” many expressed outrage at the positioning and said that it alluded to sexual harassment.
As a result of the controversy, the sculptor has been asked to alter the design of the statue to show a woman standing alone with the Egyptian flag in her raised hand.
Meanwhile, the famous statute of Um Kalthoum on the corniche in Zamalek was also the subject of public outcry when the statue was “renovated” by being painted. Some social media users likened the statue’s new look to Fiona, an ogre from the animated film Shrek. The colors have since been removed from the statue.