Fake statue fails to replace toppled Saddam

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It was supposed to be a symbol of the rise of freedom in an Islamic nation with a proud history.

Instead it is an anonymous green blob at the heart of a nation without symbols.

Four years ago the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue by US marines in central Baghdad stood as the moment the regime's downfall was complete.

Two months later an artists' collective erected a replacement statue called Najeen, or Survivor. It shows a woman, supported by a man and a child, holding up an Islamic crescent moon that frames a Sumerian sun.

It attracted universal derision and scuttled the career of its sculptor, Basim Hamid. Painted dark green to give the impression that the plaster figure is a bronze, its features are hard to make out in Baghdad's harsh sunlight.

In the midst of escalating violence there were few in Iraq who took succour from its dedication"to freedom-loving people everywhere".

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