Researchers Say the Statue of Liberty Was Originally a Muslim Woman
Almost everyone recognizes the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of freedom that welcomes immigrants and visitors to America. But it turns out that the origin of the Statue of Liberty might be vastly different than what most people actually realize. Some historical researchers believe that the Statue of Liberty was originally intended to be a Muslim woman.
Before arriving in New York Harbor, historians agree that French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi designed the Statue of Liberty for Egypt to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal. However, Bartholdi reportedly was enamored with Egyptian culture, and the statue possibly symbolized Islam. Historian Edward Berenson said the original statue was a, “gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant.” “That monument was going to be a woman in the southern opening of the canal holding up a torch over her head and that woman was dressed in Arab peasant garb,” Berenson said, via USA Today. But the Muslim Statue of Liberty design was short-lived as Egyptian leader Ishma’il Pasha refused to buy it from Bartholdi because his country was reportedly bankrupt. Determined to sell his statue, Bartholdi went to the U.S. to show drawings of the statue. In the U.S., Bartholdi packaged the concept of the statue differently by changing the design from a Muslim woman to Libertas —the Roman goddess of Liberty. And since Libertas typically is depicted with a robe, this new concept made perfect sense for Bartholdi. The Statue of Liberty was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886 in New York Harbor to mark the American Centennial. With the rise of Islamophobia in the U.S., it is certainly refreshing for people to discover the Muslim Statue of Liberty story. The tale fits perfectly with the infamous sonnet by Emma Lazarus on the monument:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
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