Qatar removes Zidane headbutt statue amid outcry
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Qatar has removed a massive bronze statue immortalising former French footballer Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt during the 2006 World Cup, after religious conservatives in the country complained that it was a work of idolatry.
When former France captain Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the 110th minute of the 2006 World Cup final, it was a moment that went down in football infamy. Zidane was red-carded and ejected from the match, Italy went on to win and football fans around the world were left in shock.
Now, more than seven years later, it appears that a towering bronze statue immortalising the incident has riled many in Qatar. The piece, which was sculpted by Algerian-born French artist Adel Abdessemed, was put on display in the city of Doha on October 3. But on Monday the statue was removed after conservatives complained that it was a work of idolatry in violation of the rules of Islam.
"Congratulations for having new idols," wrote one sardonic Twitter user, as the Arabic hashtag "Zidane's statue in Qatar" triggered a deluge of reactions from outraged conservatives.
"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)," posted another.
Islamic jurisprudence prohibits statues of human beings and animals to avoid the possibility of idolatry.
Although some Muslim countries display statues in public, conservative Gulf nations mostly do not.
Saudi municipal authorities in June smashed sculptures of horses erected on a roundabout in the southwestern Jazan province after the kingdom's top cleric Abdul-Aziz al Sheikh wrote to the local governor demanding their removal for being a "great sin".
The Qatar Museum Authority bought the five-metre (16.4-feet) tall "Coup de Tête" sculpture after it was put on display last year outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
Doha News website cited QMA chief marketing officer Kimberly French as saying the statue will now join Abdessemed's collection, which is on display in the Arab Museum of Modern Art.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)