Egypt’s Antiquities Chief Quits Cabinet, Warns of Looting
2011-03-04 0:00

By Hamza Hendawi | AOLNews.com



Egypt’s top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, warned that the country’s antiquity sites were being looted by criminals amid the country’s political upheaval as he announced he would no longer serve in his ministerial post in the government.

Hawass was quoted in the Friday editions of Cairo’s dailies as saying he would not participate in the new government to be led by prime minister designate Essam Sharaf. Hawass, the longtime head of Egypt’s antiquities office, was elevated to Cabinet-level antiquities minister on Jan. 31, when ousted President Hosni Mubarak named a new government led by longtime friend Ahmed Shafiq.


Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, has issued a statement warning that looting has increased since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted and his country’s archaeological treasures are "in grave danger."
Khaled Desouki, AFP / Getty Image

Shafiq resigned Thursday amid calls by protesters for his removal, and Sharaf has been tasked with naming a new government.

Hawass said he was no longer able to protect the country’s antiquities because of what he called the absence of police protection and because he was the victim of a campaign against him by senior officials at his ministry.

Egypt’s antiquities, he warned, were in "grave danger" from criminals. He called on the youth groups behind the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down Feb. 11 to help protect antiquity sites.

"Since Mubarak’s resignation, looting has increased all over the country, and our antiquities are in grave danger from criminals trying to take advantage of the current situation," he wrote on his website.

Repeated attempts by The Associated Press to reach Hawass have failed.

On his website, Hawass listed some two dozen archaeology sites that have been raided by thieves since Mubarak’s ouster. The sites include the warehouse used by archaeologist from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art at Dahshour, a pyramids site on the outskirts of Cairo. Hawass also said illegal construction has taken place on antiquity sites.

The list includes ancient Egyptian tombs, Islamic sites and warehouses and are spread across much of the country from the outskirts of Cairo, the Sinai Peninsula and the southernmost city of Aswan.

The looting is part of a crime wave that has gripped Egypt since Jan. 28, when the police mysteriously disappeared from most of the country following deadly clashes with the anti-government protesters. The army was called out to restore order, but it has been unable to fully take on a policing role.

The police have yet to fully retake the streets, leaving a security vacuum in which criminals, including several thousand inmates who escaped prisons, are operating with impunity in parts of the country. The police force is widely hated for years of abuse against Egyptians and because of its brutal crackdown on protesters. Only about 50 percent of the police force is thought to have returned to work and there are reports that hundreds of officers want to quit.

Archaeology sites have chronically been a soft target for thieves because of their isolated location and the relative ease with which lowly paid guards can be bribed to look the other way.

"The situation looks very difficult today and we are trying our best to ensure the police and army restore full protection to the cultural heritage of the country," Hawass said on his website.

Hawass has for more than decade been the international face of Egypt’s archaeology, with his trademark "Indiana Jones" hat turning him into an instantly recognizable global icon. Hawass, however, has been the target of a recent series of heavily publicized protests by archaeology graduates who accused him of corruption and seeking publicity for himself.

He has been accused of being too close to Mubarak and his family, along with former culture minister Farouq Hosni, himself a protege of the Mubaraks who had served in the Cabinet for 25 years until he was left out from the Shafiq’s government.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art joined Hawass in voicing concern over the looting.

"The Met and the entire museum community worldwide are increasingly concerned about what appear to be ongoing, grievous security breaches at Egypt’s historic sites and archaeological digs," the museum’s director, Thomas P. Campbell, said in a statement Thursday.

"The world cannot sit by and permit unchecked anarchy to jeopardize the cultural heritage of one of the world’s oldest, greatest, and most inspiring civilizations. We echo the voices of all concerned citizens of the globe in imploring Egypt’s new government authorities ... to protect its precious past. Action needs to be taken immediately."


Article from: aolnews.com




Zahi Hawass, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, gives a passionate defense of Hosni Mubarak, who, at the time, was days away from stepping down as the President of Egypt. (6 February 2011)

Zahi Hawass interview (BBC)

Video from: YouTube.com





Related Articles
Egypt antiquities chief plans to step down in protest
Egypt asks Berlin to return Nefertiti bust, Germany says "Nein"
Dr Zahi Hawass Appointed to Egypt President Mubarak’s New Cabinet
Egypt Threatens Removal of Ancient Central Park Obelisk


Latest News from our Front Page

Viking Heathen Origin of Horse Meat Taboo
2015-04-21 4:07
YouTube description: The recent horse meat scandal involving Tescos burgers, Ikea meatballs, Findus lasagne and Taco Bell has got people wondering why the English don't eat horses. I covered this subject in my recent dissertation. The answer is to do with paganism. The Catholic church realised that eating horse meat was connected to pagan rites in the North of Europe, ...
Generation Identitaire - Declaration of War
2015-04-21 2:50
We are Generation Identitaire. We are the generation who get killed for glancing at the wrong person, for refusing someone a cigarette, or having an "attitude" that annoys someone. We are the generation of ethnic fracture, total failure of coexistence, and forced mixing of the races. We are the generation doubly punished: Condemned to pay into a social system so ...
No Jab, No Pay reforms: Religious exemptions for vaccination dumped
2015-04-20 20:03
Religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations will be scrapped to toughen Australia’s new “no jab, no pay’’ laws stripping welfare from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Social Services Minister Scott Morrison revealed he is dumping the last remaining exemption on the books after holding talks with religious leaders. Just a week after The Sunday Telegraph revealed Mr Morrison was scrapping exemptions ...
Inside David Lynch: An Esoteric Guide to Twin Peaks
2015-04-20 18:24
‘I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper.’ – David Lynch If you’ve ever sensed the flimsy, thin veneer of what parades itself as the good ole US of A, and felt a bit like you’ve been sold a fake, then David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is a series you must see. ...
Third-gender toilet sign – now a reality in Sweden
2015-04-20 18:29
If you don’t identify yourself as a man, a woman or are officially handicapped — where should you go to relieve yourself? In Sweden, the social justice warriors have solved the problem by inventing a third-gender toilet sign. A couple of years ago, the Swedish language was introduced to a new personal pronoun, “hen“, to replace gender specific hon (she) and ...
More News »