Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pride cometh before a fall

Al Ahram Weekly (Jill Kamil)

Apologies that this is so out of date (6th March), but it may be useful to anyone who missed it.

Zahi Hawass, the international face of Egypt's archaeology for some 10 years, has admitted that he was no longer able to protect the country's antiquities because of the absence of police protection, and because he believes he is the victim of a campaign against him by senior officials at his ministry. What he doesn't admit is that members of his own staff have accused him of dictatorial polices concerning findings, unfairness in taking credit for the excavations of others, punishing any whose opinions do not square with his own, of hampering the aspirations of qualified graduates, of nepotism and even, in the words of ex-director of the Egyptian Museum Wafaa El-Saddik, of overseeing a system of corruption.

Days before he resigned as president in February 2011, Hosni Mubarak elevated Hawass from his position as secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to head a new Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs (MSAA) -- which separates it from the Ministry of Culture -- something he has long been pressing for. As a member of the old guard, however, his name indelibly linked with those of Suzanne Mubarak and ex-minister of culture Farouk Hosni, so he could not expect to remain a cog in the wheel of a discredited state apparatus no matter how often or how vociferously he defended himself on his website and in public interviews.

In NatGeo Newswatch posted on 22 February, he vowed to stay on as Egypt's antiquities chief, "so that I can continue to do everything in my power to protect Egypt's cultural heritage." That he has failed to do.

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