Online hunt ends in parents apology for teen’s Egypt graffiti

Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2013-5-27 17:39:00

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Teenage Nile relic vandal hunted down
The parents of a 15-year-old boy apologized to the public via a Nanjing newspaper on Sunday after their son's handwriting was found written on a 3,500-year-old relic in Egypt, in an incident which prompted an online "human flesh search" to determine the boy's identity in order to harass him.



10 pm, May 24 - A photo posted online by a Weibo user named "Kongyouwuyi" shows several Chinese characters crookedly written on delicate sandstone on the east bank of the Nile River in Egypt, which has a history of more than 3,000 years.

8 am, May 25 - The photo has been forwarded more than 90,000 times and triggered public outrage. The boy quickly became one of the hottest topics on Weibo. A human flesh search showed that Ding is a 15-year-old middle school student in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province.

3 pm, May 25 - Ding's parents contacted Nanjing Newspaper Modern Express, apologizing for their son, admitting that they hadn't properly educated their child and pleaded for society to give him a chance.

Related articles of law:

In China:

Law of the PRC on Penalties for Administration of Public Security Article 63:

A person who commits one of the following acts shall be given a warning or be fined no more than 200 yuan($32.6); and if the circumstances are relatively serious, he shall be detained for no less than 5 days but no more than 10 days and shall, in addition, be fined no less than 200 yuan but no more than 500 yuan:

(1) cutting, smearing or deliberately damaging by other means cultural relics, scenic spots or historic sites protected by the State;

(2) in violation of State regulations, conducting such activities as blasting and excavation in the vicinity of historic and cultural sites under State protection, which threatens the safety of cultural relics.

If a relic suffers one of the aforementioned acts and cannot be restored, the party who commits the act can be held criminally liable. Under relatively serious circumstances, the party in question is eligible for no less than 3 years but no more than 10 years imprisonment.

In Egypt:

The writing of graffiti or affixing of billposters and billboards to walls of monuments will be a violation of Egyptian cultural heritage, which incurrs a penalty of 6 to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of LE150,000 ($ 21,480), according to the Egyptian Cultural Heritage Organization official website.


Chinese media comments:

“The motivation for travelers to leave graffiti on monuments or scenic spots comes from a deep psychological need to commemorate their trip. Chinese tourists are not the only ones who leave their names in touring scenes, Mu Duosheng, an independent scholar, told the Global Times (Chinese version) on May 27.

Mu pointed out that the widespread discussion over the issue on the other hand reflected Chinese nationals’ expectation to enhance the populace’s civilization.

“Relic protection should be promoted to improve tourists’ awareness,” said Mu, adding that tourism management departments could also install special “graffiti walls” for visitors to leave their messages.  

The Beijing Times
suggested that the flood of public criticism and the “human flesh search” for the 15-year-old boy accused of writing the graffiti were excessive in an opinion piece on May 27.

The piece urged Chinese Web users to show restraint and reason when commenting online.

Beijing News
however believed that the nationwide criticism of the graffiti shows how much Chinese citizens respect world cultural relics.

The paper appealed to Chinese police to investigate the case and make an example of those responsible in a commentary on May 27.

“A full implementation of a law can urge other Chinese nationals to behave in a more civilized way while traveling and prevent such a shameful occurrence from happening again,” read the article.

Weibo voices:

@连鹏:As Ding is still a teenager, I think his guardians should be punished. A human flesh search is immoral, and we should protect the privacy of juveniles. I hope the ones who criticized Ding on Weibo can also avoid destroying relics.

@中青旅葛磊 :Ding's scandal should be seen as a chance to make Chinese people aware of how to travel in a civilized manner, not just slander on the Internet.

@俞敏洪:Parents should be responsible for the mistakes of their children. Children just learn from what they see. China's tourist sites have lots of graffiti. Why don't people feel ashamed when they see graffiti in their own country? We should learn to protect our own relics first. Children can be forgiven, but adults should learn how to travel in a civilized manner.

@人民网: There will be no apologies offered if there's no human flesh search. If public sentiment isn’t shaken, there will be no cause for reflection. But that doesn’t give netizens an excuse to turn to abuse online. The verbal attacks on the school's website won’t help the boy correct his bad behavior. Internet supervision is a way to stop bad behavior, but if taken too far such supervision turns to abuse and will only have a negative effect. Now it is essential to call for a practical way to improve the qualities of Chinese travelers.

       Similar  Cases

An employee with the Palace Museum in Beijing posted on Weibo February 22 accusing a tourist of engraving the words "Liang Qiqi was here" on a large bronze water vat in the Forbidden City.
Following the Ding incident, online posts claimed that Song Yin, said to be a senior reporter with the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper, had engraved similar words in a Dunhuang fresco in Northwest Gansu Province.

A photograph showing the words, "Senior reporter Song Yin was here for research in 2000." Wen Wei Po claimed there was no such person working at the newspaper at present.
A Japanese tour guide posted this photo of graffiti (right, with red box) in 2008 by a group of Japanese university students on the wall of the Florence Cathedral in Italy. The students ultimately apologized to the Florence municipal government.
A man named Zhao Genda from Changzhou, Jiangsu Province was caught after Taiwanese media reported he had carved his name and hometown at a site in Taiwan on May 27, 2009.
Some parts of the Great Wall bear graffiti of foreign travelers.

        News Vocab

涂鸦 túyā graffiti



Reporters discovered that the Great Wall, a must-see for both Chinese and foreign tourists who come to Beijing, also bears graffiti in foreign languages.
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