Sunday, February 24, 2013

Egypt 2.0: Islamists deface Egyptian cultural icons

(JPost) Islamists are suspected of vandalizing monuments to two of Egypt’s most important cultural icons - singer Umm Kulthum and Taha Husayn, one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century.

In the town of Mansoura, the hometown of Kulthum, vandals placed an Islamic veil on a statue of her, according to a report in the current issue of Al-Ahram Weekly, which was released last week. The paper also quotes an article published in the liberal daily Al-Masry Al-Youm by Mohamed Salmawy stating,“What did those ignoramuses who attacked the statues do to Islam? They insulted it, and Islam is innocent of their behavior.”

Umm Kulthum, known also as The Star of the East, was one of the Arab world’s most famous singers in the 20th century and she broadcast legendary concerts monthly from Cairo from the 1930s to the 1970s. She grew up in a rural village and moved to Cairo with her family like many others who sought a better life in the city. She sang in various genres, from religious to nationalistic songs.

The growing strength of conservative Muslims in Egypt since the victory of Islamists in national elections, has given them confidence in challenging the country’s cultural heritage that does not meet their religious standards.