Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Protest at the Supreme Council of Antiquities


Around 200 archaeologists gathered today at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in Zamalek to protest corruption, low wages and lack of contracts. They had a list of demands they were hoping to present to the newly appointed minister of Egypt's Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, but failed to do so when he slid out of the building from a side door to avoid confrontation with the protesters. An army tank showed up at the front door of the SCA building at around 4pm, and about a half hour later, Hawass had left the building.
Although the protesters grievances were mostly focused on low wages and lack of jobs, there were chants against Zahi Hawass himself, whom they see as a self-promoting dictator of antiquities, as well as chants against the rampant corruption that plagues the SCA institution. The protesters decided to give their list of demands to the army in hope that they would follow through - these included 1. Prosecuting Zahi Hawass for corruption and accountability for the theft of 18 masterpieces from the Cairo Museum 2. Demanding a minimum wage of 1200 LE 3. Demanding jobs for new graduates

11 comments:

Dr. Nicole Hansen said...

Thank you, Nora, for covering this important story and for all your previous efforts at revealing the corruption that has gone on in the antiquities (such as your story about the sphinxes below). if anyone wants to assist in crafting a new vision for the Ministry of Antiquities, I would like to invite them to make their voice heard here:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_200127803337230&ap=1

Geoff Carter said...

A very interesting post; thank you.

At last, an opinion other than Dr Hawass is heard. I hope the spirit of renewal spreads to the SCA.

Anonymous said...

During the long years of Dr Hawass's perpetual peripatetic perambulations around the globe, he has continually been telling of how professional and capable Egyptian archaeologists are. At the same time, he allows few, if any, Egyptian archaeologists the international credit, publicity, exposure and standing that is their due. Their important, valued works and researches, has for years been elbowed aside, as he has propelled himself to the forefront in personally seeking headlines for academic scholarship and discoveries.

Dr Hawass alone has kept Egypt's antiquities academics and scholars from becoming known throughout the world. It is very much time now for change. That this antiquated, pharaonic, dinosaur-like state of affairs changes and that Egyptian archaeological scholars take their due place in the world, shoulder to shoulder with their contemporaries.
(Patricia Linton)

mr.allen said...

Dear Nora, did you say he "slid out of the building from a side door"? Does that mean Dr. Hawass has installed an escape slide? He is so James Bond bad guy! Next thing you will tell me is that Z has a monorail inside a pyramid.

chris said...

Mr. Allen's snide remarks miss the point -- Hawass is an egomaniac who revealed himself to be a tool of the old regime. Time for him to be replaced and let Egypt's professional archaeologists flourish!

manna4u said...

Sad that Egypt was looted by Mubarak for so much money-
now someone has looted Egypt’s history and honour.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, former Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, always declared vociferous:
“Our heritage is part of humanity’s history and Egypt’s identity. It must not be allowed to vanish into unscrupulous hands, or run the risk of being damaged or even destroyed”

But, as the proof occurred, he failed the exam.

What had happened?

After the conspicuous disappearance of security forces in the afternoon of Friday, 28 January 2011, the Egyptian national-museum was bare from any protection. A bunch of unidentified but somehow informed people took this occasion and jumped over the fence into the courtyard, broke in and plundered the gift shop of the Museum, only taking things easily to be sold on the streets.
At the same time, a small group was entering its way into the museum in a more criminal fashion over the roof. Inside the museum there were only three tourist policeman left contrary to given orders, trying to protect the museum against the invaders.
On this point, hundreds of peaceful protesters formed a human chain to surround the museum and protected it from thieves and looters, spontaneously to safeguard Egypt’s treasures with their naked hands until the army arrived and helped to imprison some of the criminals.

And where was Hawass?
After his own statement “At home, asleep” because there was a curfew! Was his telephone broken, and were his office at Zamalek not on duty? No precautions taken for the Day of anger, to save Egypt’s most famed Museum only one stone's throw away from Tahrir Square where tens of thousands Pro-democracy protesters demonstrated for their rights against suppression, exploitation and unfair treatment of their life? Whoever gave the order to give to all security forces an unexpected work-free day in such a critical situation to bare the heart of our heritage?
He didn't know the Regime would free their tugs to set the Streets on fire? Why didn't he give any commands to come to excellent defence before this disgrace occurs?
He lamented the loss on the next day but gave no answer to the questions!
He claimed for weeks: “The few outlaws who broke in the Museum were on the search of gold and mummies. When I went to the museum on Saturday morning I found out that 70 objects had been broken, but nothing had been stolen and all 70 objects can be restored, now all of the Egyptian monuments are safe And all the inspectors, young archaeologists, and administrators, are calling me from sites and museums all over Egypt to tell me that they will give their life to protect our antiquities.”
It seems he was the only one who not!

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