Copenhagen's iconic little mermaid statue vandalised over whaling

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Stockholm (AFP) - The "Little Mermaid" statue in Copenhagen, the city's most famous monument, was doused in red paint on Tuesday by animal rights activists outraged over whaling, police said.

The culprits who vandalised the bronze sculpture, which sits on a rock by the waterside in the Danish capital, also left a message for authorities.

"Danmark (sic), defend the whales of the Faroe Islands" was spray painted on the pavement in front of the monument.

Copenhagen police confirmed the incident on Twitter, writing "The Little Mermaid was targeted by vandalism. We are on the case".

The Faroe Islands, a Danish autonomous archipelago in the North Atlantic, has a tradition of trapping mainly pilot whales in a bay or a fjord and killing them with long knives, an act called the "grindadrap".

The Little Mermaid, inspired by a character in Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 fairytale of the same name, is a 175-kilogram (385-pound) statue by Edvard Eriksen.

She was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the famous Carlsberg brewery, and has been one of Denmark's main tourist attractions since 1913.

The statue has been vandalised several times over a century including when the mermaid's head was stolen in 1964 and 1998, as well as when an arm was cut off in 1984.

She has been sprayed with paint before and thrown into the sea several times. In 2004, her head was covered with a burqa in protest against Turkey's application to become a member of the European Union.

Denmark loaned the statue, which attracts around one million visitors per year, to China for the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai.

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