Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Minister of State for Antiquity Affairs, said on his blog today that accusations against him of inappropriate or even illegal behavior had convinced him to stay in office, "so that I can continue to do everything in my power to protect Egypt's cultural heritage."
Hawass added: "I have written to Egypt's attorney general, asking him to look into some of the false accusations that have been made against me. I believe that addressing these issues will help stabilize the Ministry of Antiquities Affairs."
Numerous allegations of corruption, nepotism, and even criminal behavior have been levelled against Hawass by his critics since the fall of the Mubarak government.
About 150 graduates of archaeology schools demonstrated outside the Ministry of Antiquities in Cairo on February 14, seeking jobs and accusing Hawass of corruption.
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Egypt's ancient monuments reopened to tourists Sunday as the country's beleaguered antiquities minister forcefully defended his stewardship of its treasures. "Under my direction, the SCA [Supreme Council of Antiquities] has always been an honest department," Zahi Hawass told ScienceInsider in an e-mail. "Unfortunately, at the moment there is a lot of upheaval and some people are saying things for their own benefit and with their own agenda in mind."
Hawass is under fire for his close ties to the regime led by deposed President Hosni Mubarak, who elevated Hawass in late January from his position as head of the SCA to leading a new ministry of antiquities. SCA employees have demonstrated for higher pay outside of his office and individual SCA managers have harshly criticized their boss. For example, Hany Hanna, an SCA conservator, accused Hawass in an online letter 2 weeks ago of overseeing a "system of corruption." Meanwhile, the thefts at the Egyptian Museum and at cemeteries south of Cairo have shaken confidence in the country's ability to protect its ancient heritage.