‘Al-Mansur’ Bust Divides Iraq

A crane lifts the bust of Abu Jafar Al-Mansur from the site of an explosion that targeted it in 2005 (AFP)
A crane lifts the bust of Abu Jafar Al-Mansur from the site of an explosion that targeted it in 2005 (AFP)
TT

‘Al-Mansur’ Bust Divides Iraq

A crane lifts the bust of Abu Jafar Al-Mansur from the site of an explosion that targeted it in 2005 (AFP)
A crane lifts the bust of Abu Jafar Al-Mansur from the site of an explosion that targeted it in 2005 (AFP)

Iraq is debating whether to remove a statue of the Abbasid Caliph Abu Jafar Al-Mansur in central Baghdad. Some argue it’s a cherished symbol, while others say it’s divisive between Shiite and Sunni communities.

Calls to remove the statue coincide with Shiite attempts to make “Eid al-Ghadir” a national holiday, opposed by Sunni parties.

The proposal caused a rift in parliament, with Shiite and Sunni deputies disagreeing on its inclusion without consultation.

The statue of Abu Jafar Al-Mansur was unveiled in Baghdad’s Al-Karkh district in 1977. Created by Iraqi artist Khalid Al-Rahal, it has become a subject of debate over whether it should stay or go.

Calls for its removal have surfaced before, but protection measures were taken, and the voices demanding its removal faded.

However, in 2005, the statue was bombed, attributed to “unknown militants.” It was moved for safety and returned in 2008 during improved security.

Recently, analysts close to the “Coordination Framework” coalition claim the statue angers many Iraqis and argue for its removal.

Public rejection of the proposal has been strong on social media. Iraqi police have deployed around the monument, as seen in widely shared images.

Yet, social media has also seen a resurgence of sectarian tensions, highlighting divisions among Iraq’s communities.

Government representatives have firmly opposed any disrespect towards the statue, emphasizing its importance in Baghdad’s cultural heritage.

“The statue must remain in its place without any form of disrespect or infringement,” Fadel Al-Badrani of the Ministry of Culture told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Al-Badrani highlighted the statue’s significance, noting its role as a symbol cherished by Iraqis and admirers of Baghdad’s history and heritage.

Critics have labeled calls for its removal as “sectarian talk,” reflecting a lack of seriousness in Iraq’s political landscape.



Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June

Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June
TT

Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June

Culinary Arts Commission to Participate in 'Taste London' Exhibition in June

The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission will participate in the 'Taste London' food festival and exhibition for the second consecutive time.
The event, scheduled from June 12 to 16 in London, will serve as a platform to showcase the rich and diverse culture of Saudi culinary arts globally and involve Saudi chefs in international forums.
The commission, a key partner in this international event, will present the unique flavours and traditions of Saudi Arabia under the slogan 'A Taste of Saudi Culture,' SPA reported.

Its national pavilion will be a hub of activity, featuring live cooking demonstrations of authentic Saudi dishes by talented Saudi chefs, a beverage maker's area showcasing the richness of Saudi drinks, and a product store promoting culinary arts books, packaged products such as dates, spices, and coffee cups, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. A hospitality tent will serve renowned Saudi coffee and host engaging sessions for festival visitors.
The commission's participation in the Taste London exhibition for the second time is not only an opportunity for visitors of various nationalities to discover Saudi culinary arts and dishes but also a testament to Saudi culture's global reach and influence.
The goal is to provide an exceptional experience, allowing them to learn about Saudi culture through artisanal products, enhance the international status of Saudi food, and enable Saudi chefs to showcase their skills externally.
This participation also reflects the commission's unwavering commitment to promoting international cultural exchange as part of the goals of the National Strategy for Culture under the Kingdom's Vision 2030.