Sunday, 24 February 2013
Suspected Islamists deface Egyptian cultural icons

From the Jerusalem Post

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

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.

In Minya, vandals cut off the head of a 10-year-old marble memorial bust of Taha Husayn in a square named after him, according to the Al Ahram Weekly. Husayn was a famous Egyptian writer who wrote novels and political opinion. He went blind at the age of two and in 1902 he went to study Islam at al-Azhar, the most important Sunni center of learning. He clashed with the conservative views there and later moved to study in secular institutions, including the Sorbonne in France.

He was named the minister of education in 1950 and some of his writings angered religious authorities and Islamists, which helps explain why his monument was targeted.

This follows news from late last year that Islamists want to destroy the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx... Because these monuments come from the pre-Islamic period (known as Jahiliyya), or the era of ignorance before the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, these monuments are deemed to be a form of idolatry.

Posted on 02/24/2013 8:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
24 Feb 2013
Hugh Fitzgerald

An introduction to Taha Husain, or Taha Hussein, is supplied here.

Taha Husain's "Pharaonism" -- the belief that Egypt should emphasize, recover, pay attention to, its pre-islamic path, was clearly meant as a way for Egyptians to de-emphasize the malignant influence of Islam. It offered a way out.

Taha Husain wrote his doctoral dissertation on the "skeptic" Al-Ma'ari. It was just a month or two ago that True Believers in Syria decapitated a statue of Al-Ma'ari.

Headless, the statues of and to Taha Husains and Al-Ma'aris may be. But their skepticism -- one as to the content of Islam, the other as to the effect of Islam -- remains, unrefuted and forever freshly attractive to the most advanced in the stifling, Muslim-suffused societies of the East.

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