In turn, Hermes said it would be better to “move the statue of the Virgin Mary inside the walls of a church, a monastery or a cemetery to protect it from those who seek to tamper with the security of Basra or people with weak souls.”
Alwachi added, “The churches in Basra are open to all Muslims and Christians who wish to visit the statue of the Virgin Mary at any time and get its blessings. This is something Muslim women always do.” He also pointed out that the statue will be moved with the approval and participation of Christian clerics.
On his Facebook page, Hermes explained the conditions that must be met for erecting a statue of the Virgin Mary, saying, “The erection of such a monument must be subject to conditions. Every sculptor in Europe takes the opinion of the church before sculpting a statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue in Basra does not resemble the Virgin Mary, especially the facial features, length and width measurements. I wish the sculptor had referred to us for help. Sculpting and erecting a statue of the Virgin Mary should involve a high sense of Christian spirituality because this is the Mother of the Lord Jesus. Such a step should be coupled with a specific prayer and church ritual including the performance of the Holy Rosary.”
Sheikh Abbas al-Fadli, the head of the Basra Tribes and Components Committee, tried to contain the fears that erupted within the scope of the controversy around the Virgin Mary statue. He noted that Basra is a city historically known for its pluralism and tolerance, and Christians are an essential component of this city. “The Muslims of Basra — like its Christians — sanctify the Virgin Mary, who is venerated in Islam,” he told Al-Monitor.