DOHA, Nov 4 – Facing growing religious and social outrage, Qatar has decided to remove a bronze statue depicting a headbutt attack by French footballer Zinedine Zidane, criticized as promoting violence.
“Congratulations for having new idols,” wrote one tweeter sarcastically, as the Arabic hashtag “Zidane’s statue in Qatar” triggered huge reaction from dismayed Qataris, AFP reported. The five-meter sculpture depicting the French footballer attacking Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final was put on display on Doha’s Corniche on October 3. Created by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed in 2012, it has previously been on show at the Pompidou Centre in Paris until it was bought by the Qatari Museum Authority as an advert for World Cup 2022.
A few weeks after it was erected, criticism from religious conservatives, who believe it encourages idolatry, forced the Gulf country to remove it. Others thought the statue promoted violence or was in bad taste. “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),” another tweeter said. Despite the popularity of the game in the region, some soccer fans had suggested earlier this month that it was perhaps an odd idea to give a statue that commemorates a shocking act of violence from a French player of Algerian origin such a prominent place in the Qatari capital.
A spokeswoman for the public art authority, which is overseen by a daughter of the ruling emir, told Doha News that the statue, “Coup de Tête,” had been moved to the Museum of Modern Arab Art in the Qatari capital. Muslim scholars have unanimously agreed on the prohibition of making statues with the purpose of worshipping or revering them. If this is the case, the sin of making statues involves the sculptor, the buyer, the worshipper and deifiers.
There is also an agreement among scholars that the statues made to be an object for training and children toys, i.e. dolls of animals and humans are not included in the prohibition. The majority of scholars are of the opinion that defaced or incomplete statues are not prohibited so long as they are not worshipped. However, some scholars prohibit the use of statues under any circumstances whatsoever. On the other hand, the full-figured statues are, according to the majority of scholars, prohibited, even if they are not worshipped or revered. –IINA