Iconic Nude Statue Stolen in Tripoli

The colonial-era statue of a woman caressing a gazelle has mysteriously disappeared from a busy roundabout in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, Art Daily reports.

The historic bronze was removed in the early hours of Tuesday by “unidentified men who were probably offended by its nudity for religious reasons,” a witness told AFP. Although the authors of the removal remain unknown, many locals blame Islamist militias.

This is not the first attack directed towards the iconic statue, which was sculpted by an Italian artist in the early 1930s, when Libya was an Italian colony. Last month, the artwork suffered serious damage after being struck by a rocket, believed to have been fired by armed militia.

The BBC’s Lybia correspondent, Rana Jawad, said that the roundabout where the historical landmark stood was known by locals as the “gazelle roundabout.”

Libya’s legal government, led by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani, released a statement on Wednesday criticizing the event, and arguing that “reactionaries and terrorists” were able to steal the statue “because the state is absent and has no control over the capital.” The culture ministry added: “This act indicates a backward mind, reactionary vision and a total absence of culture on the part of the assailants.”

Last August, the government had to flee the capital towards the Egypt border to escape an Islamist militia coalition, which seized control of the Parliament.

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