Interesting Fact: Statue Of Liberty Was Originally A Muslim Woman

Standing tall on Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty is the manifestation of America’s deep-rooted dedication to freedom and enlightenment.

It was one of the first structures that migrants saw when they were processed on Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954.

The structure was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and is widely attributed to the artist’s interpretation of the Roman goddess for liberty, Libertas.

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi designed the Statue of Liberty

However, the statue’s inception wasn’t in the western world: Its roots are found in the east.

Specifically Egypt.

According to CNBC, the Statue of Liberty, “one of the most potent symbols of American freedom began life as a Muslim woman” and it was “originally intended to represent an Egyptian peasant.”

The first draft for what is now the statue of Liberty as conceived by Bartholdi, was not for the Statue of Liberty but for an entirely different project: a lighthouse that would stand at the entrance to the Suez Canal, according to a 2015 feature on the Washington Post.

The first sketch for the 'Lady Liberty' was an Arab peasant
The first sketch for the ‘Lady Liberty’ was an Arab peasant

The Washington Post article also cited Michael Daly of the Daily Beast stating that Lady Liberty was in fact originally conceived as an Egyptian — and by default in those times, a Muslim.

The UK independent reports that in 1855, Bartholdi visited Egypt to study its colossal statues. After a number of years, it was his intention to create a statue to stand at Port Said at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal.

Encyclopaedia called the sketch “an African-style female figure” and the National Park Service, a bureau of the Department of the Interior confirmed on their website that he originally designed a colossal statue of “a robed woman holding a torch, which he called ‘Egypt Bring Light to Asia’”.

According to Edward Berenson, author of Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story, the concept was a “gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant” which changed into “a colossal goddess” after Isma’il Pasha, the khedive (leader at the time) refused the idea because it was too expensive.

George Adam Smith, writing in Syria and the Holy Land, said that fellahin (the plural of fellah) can denote a Muslim, Druze, Christian or Jewish peasant.

However, given that Egypt in the nineteenth century was predominately Muslim, one hypothesis is that the woman depicted in the original sketch of the statue, referred to as Egypt herself, was Muslim.


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