Egyptian Minister of Culture Downplays Damage and Takes a Stance

Associated Press

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703833204576114580200904212.html

According to Zahi Hawass, as adamantly reiterate in his blog, the damage to the objects in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo has been minimal and is all reparable.  He bitterly denies contradicting reports from the museum’s former director, Dr. Wafaa el-Saddik, who Hawass snidely points out was safely asleep in Germany when the looting occurred.   Perhaps the most interesting comment Hawass makes is not regarding the museum or the safety of its artifacts but the politics of the Egyptian people.

“In my recent interview with the BBC, I made it clear that all Egyptians, with no exception, are for democratic, constitutional, and economic reforms. However, in these very critical moments of Egypt’s history, I believe that President Mubarak is capable of insuring a peaceful and democratic transition of power; especially since he has announced that he would not seek re-election. I also would like to remind everybody that Mubarak is a decorated war hero, and should be allowed to leave his office in dignity. I say that as an Egyptian who honors the war heroes of this country, but not as a cabinet member.”

It is not surprising that Hawass, who has risen to Minister of Antiquities, under the auspices of the Mubarak regime would support his benefactor in these tumultuous times but it is indicative of the pervasive presence of the government in every aspect of society.  Does the extremity of the political crisis in Egypt make it appropriate for a steward of art and culture to be overtly commenting on the outcome of these clashes?

Zahi Hawass assessing damage

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About projectpatrimonio

Helena Boyden Lamb, born 1985 in New York, has studied and worked in Politics, Heritage Ethics and Politics, and Opera Singing. Most recently, she is working in Brussels where she started in a European Think Tank and is now the Executive Office of a NGO which facilitates Youth Politics across the EU. She has a Bachelor with Honors from Stanford University, California in Classics: Politics and Heritage and a Masters with Honors from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK in European Identity. She has conducted academic or independent grant-funded research in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, and Albania. She was, previously, an archaeologist and an opera singer. Cynthia Querio is a Museum Educator currently living and working in Los Angeles. She is interested in heritage and identity politics and the role of museum education departments in the trajectory of this debate. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a 9 month graduate internship at the Getty Villa's education department and has continued to work in many museums in Los Angeles including LACMA and the Autry National Center. Her academic background is in the Classics, which was her major at Stanford University and which she continued to pursue with a Masters in the History of Classical Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
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