More stupid and brutal

There were sculptures of horses on a roundabout (a traffic circle) in Abu Arish in Saudi Arabia. That sounds pretty and decorative and pleasant. But then along came a Grand Mufti to say it was sinful.

 Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Shaikh sent a letter to the governor of Jazan demanding that “the sculptures be removed because they are a great sin and are prohibited under sharia (Islamic law),” said another news webitse,

Statues of people and animals are prohibited under Islam as they represent a form of idolatry. However, the religion does allow artworks depicting plants and landscapes.

That’s nice of it. It’s so kind and generous of it to allow some things. But if you want more than plants and landscapes – well that’s too god damn bad.

The sculptures were smashed by the municipality.


photo by Larry Jacobsen

Update: the photo isn’t of the sculptures in question, I should add. This one is in a town in Montana, and it is (I assume) intact and there for everyone’s innocent enjoyment. I just wanted a creative commons picture of a sculpture, so I browsed. There’s a lot of kitsch but also a lot of nice stuff like this one.


  1. says

    Utterly, boundlessly, mindfuckingly stupid. Par for the course for the religious, of course. I am once again reminded of the loss of the priceless Buddha statues in Bamiyan. The exact same irrationality and complete absence of sense and sanity were evident there also.

  2. says

    Stupid and mean. Such an innocent pleasure, making images of animals and enjoying looking at them. Such a nice human thing to do. So mean to smash it and take it away.

  3. MrFancyPants says

    Whenever I think of “horse sculpture” I can’t help but think of the awful thing that the city of Denver put up outside DIA airport, the gigantic blue one with glowing red eyes that actually killed the artist who made it when it fell over. I wonder what the goofball religious Saudis would have to say about that thing. Even as ugly as it is, I wouldn’t want the city to take it down–its very awfulness makes it interesting.

  4. says

    Yikes, I didn’t know about that. It sounds horrible.

    I mentioned the gigantic Stalinist horse outside the Commerce Department in DC after I saw it last month. It’s got a kind of Stalinist beauty, but it’s pretty grotesque.

  5. Nentuaby says

    I rather like the Devil Horse just for… Well… Deserving that nickname. For fairly understandable reasons, “sinister” is a portion of the emotional spectrum dreadfully underexplored in public art.

  6. says

    Oh I love sinister, but sinister plus subtlety is way more terrifying. That thing is just…well.

    Denver also has the sweet giant bear looking into the glass building. I love that.

  7. Claire Ramsey says

    I don’t mind the horse. And poor Luis Jimenez. What a horrible and lonely way to go. But I adore that bear! And I was very pleased to skip a few sessions of a conference a couple of years ago so I could spend the time looking at the bear.

  8. MrFancyPants says

    I lived in the Denver metro area for most of my life, before now. This is the first I’ve seen of that bear, and it’s totally awesome! I’m going to be back in Denver in July for a conference and am actually looking forward to seeing that horse–as weird as it is, it’s a totem of a place I long called “home”.

  9. machintelligence says

    The DIA horse has the local nickname Diablo. Both for the demonic aspect, and also it was how DIA managed to “blow” a good part of the airport art budget. It was 10 years late and after the artist was killed working on it, it wasn’t clear if it would ever be delivered. It was, finally. and you can see the result.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    If Islam prohibits animal statuary, who put those horses in the Abu Arish traffic circle in the first place?

  11. Gretchen Robinson says

    Sinister is related to the left hand which was ‘bad’ for not being what is the dominant hand.
    The nuns around here used to force left-handed pupils to write with their right hands, whack them with the ruler when they couldn’t.

    Sinister can be subversive, as in “Subvert the dominant paradigm”

  12. forestdragon says

    I rather liked the devil horse, myself: I guess I have no taste 😉 . I was a bit surprised at the glowing red eyes being a dedication to the artist’s father. My immediate thought was that they were there for the same reason blinking red lights are on radio towers – to warn aircraft of the tower’s presence. I suppose though that at 32 feet tall, it isn’t really tall enough to endanger planes.

    As for the rest – I am sick and tired of the pig-ignorant Islamists destroying things they deem offensive. I too remember the Buddhas and how angry I was about that.

  13. penn says

    It seems sadly ironic that they won’t be happy until all joy is removed from life.

  14. sailor1031 says

    Highlights a big problem with islam. No central authority. Any ‘holy man’ at all can complain that anything at all is sinful, non-islamic, haram, halal or whatever and someone will pay attention. I wonder how many muftis didn’t complain that the sculptures were sinful (or even approved them) – but apparently it just takes one.

  15. tuibguy says

    I have never understood what they mean by “idolatry.” Does that mean that they think that an innocent Muslim might get confused and think that he or she must worship a horse because they see one as a statue? I am sorry, I am so baffled by it that I can’t even formulate a coherent question about what it is.

  16. dshetty says

    The labeling of harmless activities as sin is one of the most frustrating aspects of religion.
    Sculptures? – sin, Showing some hair? – sin, Worshipping in the wrong direction? – sin , Family Planning? – sin
    Learning science? – sin, Not cutting off genitals? – sin and so on – the list is endless..

  17. leni says

    I kind of like the horse too. It’s terrifying and weird. If I had seen it as a child I think would have had nightmares about it.

  18. thebookofdave says

    I like the devil horse too, but feel the display is somehow incomplete. Where is its ghost rider?

  19. A. R says

    Of course, when a poster describing how to stone someone needs to be made, that particular law can be ignored…

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