The Smithsonian has confirmed Lady Liberty was originally designed as a Muslim peasant woman.

The colossal neoclassical sculpture was intended to stand at the northern terminus of the Suez Canal in Egypt, but after it was decided a lighthouse would be placed at Port Said instead, the French designer, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, repurposed the statue for the New York Harbor.

“Edward Berenson, author of Statue of Liberty: A Translatlantic Story, writes that Bartholdi’s concept morphed from ‘a gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant’ into ‘a colossal goddess.’ But Egypt, which had invested enormous amounts of time and money into the landmark canal, was not as eager about Bartholdi’s idea. Isma’il Pasha, the reigning khedive, rejected the plan as too costly,” writes Erin Blakemore.

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