A prominent statue depicting a naked woman in the Algerian city of Setif has been vandalised for the second time in the past year, local media reported yesterday.
Videos taken by passers-by show a man mounting the monument near the city’s central Ain El-Fouara fountain, and chiselling off the face and breasts of the marble statue, before running from the gathering crowds.
The statue experienced the same treatment last December, when a man disfigured it with a hammer and chisel.
Algerian Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi, who is from Setif, tweeted that the culprit had been identified and implied that he was the same man who damaged the statue last year. He added that the man would undergo a psychiatric examination so as to determine whether he had any particular mental condition.
The monument, built in 1898 by the French sculptor Francis de Saint-Vidal is considered a noteworthy Algerian landmark, attracting thousands of visitors. It was restored earlier this year and returned to its pedestal with a ceremony in August.
However many locals see the statue as a violation of cultural and religious modesty in the Muslim majority country.
“This is the Ancient Mosque here,” one man told reporters while pointing nearby, protesting the nature of the monument. “We call on the authorities to remove it from here and put it in a museum so whoever wants to see it can do.”
The statue was destroyed in a bomb blast during the Algerian Civil War in 1997, but repaired in Italy and subsequently reinstated.