Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

American tourist 'smashed Roman statues that offended religious sensibilities'

A tourist from the US has been arrested in Israel for allegedly smashing ancient Roman statues which he found ‘blasphemous’.

Police say the suspect, a man in his 40s, deliberately destroyed the marble sculptures at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem because ‘he believes they go against the Torah’.

Local media reports suggested he was dressed in religious clothing and was seen wandering around the museum with a stick, which he may have used to inflict the damage.

Museum staff said the statues are ancient Roman pieces dating to the 2nd century AD which are part of the permanent exhibition.

One is thought to be the head of a marble statue of Athena, the Greek goddess known to the Romans as Minerva, which was found in northern Israel in 1978.

The other is a marble statue of a griffin holding a wheel, which represented the Roman goddess Nemesis, found in the Negev desert in 1957.

They have been taken to the musem’s preservation lab where specialists will try to restore them, police added.

The suspect remains in custody and will attend a hearing at Jerusalem’s Magistrates Court on Thursday, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Israel is currently experiencing an influx of tourists for the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The Israel Museum told in statement: ‘The museum’s management, which views this as a troubling and unusual event, condemns all forms of violence and hopes such incidents will not recur.

‘During the weekend, the museum will maintain its regular opening hours.’

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