Following the late August take-over of the Tripoli International Airport by the Libya Dawn forces (Misrata-led Islamic militias), some of their core supporters tried once more to destroy the “Bride of the Sea” by firing a rocket into her, VIE contacts on the ground said. The missile badly damaged the statue by punching a hole through the “Bride’s” belly, discoloring her body from the breast down.
The Bride of the Sea, an Italian-era bronze statue, is Tripoli’s iconic nude woman and gazelle fountain on the harbor front. The bride, with an outstretched arm reaching toward the gazelle’s neck, represents the life-giving role of water in a desert being made fertile by aqueducts, while the gazelle symbolizes Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, two regions united by Italy in 1934 that form much of present-day Libya.
The Islamists first attempted to destroy the Bride of the Sea two years ago, but local authorities were warned of the plot and deployed the necessary forces to protect her from her would be destroyers. Their hatred of the nude woman is based on their religious convictions. First, her nude body is an affront to the Muslim dress code (where women must even cover their arms and legs for modesty). Second, statues (as well as drawings and paintings) of individuals and animals are un-Islamic because they can allegedly lead to idolatry. Finally, she represents the Italian era of 1911-1942, a period when Christians ruled over the Muslims of Libya.
The nude lady and her gazelle survived World War II, the Libyan Monarchy, and even Qaddafi, who spared them (along with the two columns that are crowned by statues of Romulus and Remus) as he destroyed all other reminders of Italian rule.
The question now is, how long will she remain standing and defying the forces of Islamic intolerances, as Libya, under the blind eyes of the Western world, is slowly transformed into another Islamic Caliphate?