Selfie-snapping Satan sculpture sparks outrage in Spanish city because he is too happy

A city in central Spain is embroiled in controversy over the proposed installation of a sculpture of Satan that critics have said is just too joyful.

The local government in Segovia sought to honor a local legend that says the devil was tricked into building the city’s famous aqueduct.

The proposed 5.5-feet bronze statue depicts the devil smiling while taking a selfie with a smartphone. The idea is to attract visitors to the northern wall of the aqueduct, which is “less visited than the areas around the aqueduct,” Claudia de Santos, who is in charge of the city’s heritage, told El Pais.

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Instead, it has ignited so much debate and backlash that a judge has temporarily halted its installation until the court can determine if the statue constitutes an attack on religious sentiments.

Locals have said the proposed sculpture is offensive to Catholics.

Locals have said the proposed sculpture is offensive to Catholics. (City of Segovia)

More than 5,400 people have signed a petition demanding it not be installed, claiming it is an insult to Catholics.

The petition the sculpture is “offensive for Catholics because it constitutes the glorification of evil.” It adds that Satan should be “repulsive and despicable - not kind and seductive, like that of the 'good-natured devil' without malice.”

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Jose Antonio Abella, the creator and donor of the statue, told El Pais that he was inspired to do the statue after visit Lubeck, a northern German city that he said also has a local legend of the devil being duped into building a church.

“When I saw the little figure they had there as a tribute, I thought, ‘What a great idea to export to Segovia!’” he said.

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Abella said he is completely surprised by the debate and controversy his statue has created in Segovia and that he wanted to “pay homage to my city and create something to give back all I have been given.”

“It’s insane,” he said, pointing out with a hint of irony that the statue is going to be installed next to the former headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition in the city. “It would appear that the inquisitors never left the country for good.”