Monday, July 18, 2011

More re Hawass loss of position in reshuffle

I will continue to add to this post throughout today if any new information turns up, but I won't repeat anything that has already appeared on either this post or yesterday's. Although the interim government have clearly submitted to protester demands for Mubarak's former followers to be ousted, of whom Hawasss is one, there seems to be a question mark over whether these changes are constitutional. The final line-up, apparently due today, may provide more information about Hawass's replacement.

Ahram Online (Nevine El Aref)

Prime minister Essam Sharaf has cancelled the nomination of the Abdel Fatah El-Banna to hold Egypt’s antiquities portfolio. The decision was taken following the demonstrations of archaeologists and the employees of the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) at the front gate of the cabinet building calling for the cancellation of El-Banna’s nomination to the ministry's top post.

El-Banna is an associate professor at Cairo University and a stone monuments restoration specialist. He obtained his Ph.D. from Warsaw University, Poland, in engineering geology and majored in restoration of historic buildings.

El-Banna, along with fresh graduate archaeologists, had been campaigning against former MSA minister Zahi Hawass, calling for him to step down.

15:55 (Nora Shalaby)

With thanks to Kate Phizackerley for the link. Please bear in mind that whether or not Al-Banna is accepted as the official replacement of Hawass (if Hawass actually remains replaced) is a matter which appears to be still very much up in the air.

Yesterday we heard the delightful news that Zahi Hawass had resigned from the Ministry of Antiquities - something many Egyptians had long been waiting to hear. It was about time the Mubarak of Antiquities, who had been head of the SCA for over 10 years, be removed.

However when I heard about his replacement, Abdel Fattah el-Banna, I was shocked. I first heard about el-Banna post Jan25 when he appeared several times protesting against Zahi Hawass. He had a group of followers, mostly fresh archaeology graduates, and others who had an interest in Egyptian archaeology, that I saw several times outside of the SCA building in Zamalek. His dislike of Zahi was obvious and there were always chants calling for Zahi's resignation. Unfortunately though it seems that el-Banna is somewhat crazy.

Al Masry Al Youm (Mohamed Azouz)

The Supreme Council of Antiquities secretariat rejected the appointment of Abdel Fattah al-Banna as antiquities minister. The appointment was part of the cabinet reshuffle ordered by Egypt's prime minister.

In a statement, the secretariat said Banna, a restoration specialist, does not specialize in archaeology and should not assume the ministry's responsibilities.

The statement called for dissolving the Antiquities Ministry and returning its responsibilities to the council, which it said would act as an independent, scientific institute run by specialists.

The decision to establish the ministry was made by Hosni Mubarak, a mistake that should be reversed in the public's interest, the statement said.

The Guardian, UK (Jack Schencker)

Egypt's embattled prime minister, Essam Sharaf, has fired several of his top ministers in the latest attempt to end mass nationwide protests against his government's slow pace of reform.

The most high-profile departure was that of Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities minister and a self-styled 'Indiana Jones of the East' who attained celebrity status through his global television ventures with the National Geographic and Discovery channels but was tainted by his strong praise for Mubarak during the anti-government uprising earlier this year.

The ministers of finance, industry, education and foreign affairs also followed in the footsteps of Sharaf's deputy, Yehia el-Gamal, who stepped down last week amid demonstrations that have called the legitimacy of Egypt's ruling military generals into question.

Protesters have demanded that the interim cabinet be purged of all politicians linked to the Mubarak regime.

Schenker also wrote a short update yesterday afternoon on the Guardian website:

With his trademark hat, pompous swagger and unbounded sense of self-worth, Hawass has been credited with boosting national tourism revenue and opening up the mysteries of pharaonic Egypt to the world.

But he's also been a consistent hate figure for many working within the archaeological community, and his emphatic support for Mubarak – made in a BBC TV interview just five days before the dictator was toppled – seemed to be the last straw for his career. But, as seen in a recent interview with the Guardian, Hawass tried to improbably style himself as an enthusiastic revolutionary in recent months and somehow clung onto his position – until today.

Al Masry Al Youm

Egypt's Interim Constitution does not entitle the current prime minister to appoint ministers or accept their resignations, an Egyptian military source said on Saturday.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has the sole authority in that respect, said Major General Hassan al-Ruweiny, the head of the central command of Egypt's armed forces.

Ruweiny's statements follow discussions conducted by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf regarding a potential ministerial reshuffle, which came in response to week-old protests demanding a new government.

Egypt's young revolutionaries believe the military council does not provide Sharaf with the necessary authority to change ministers.

USA Today

Even after the Cabinet reshuffle, many of the protesters in the square said they have no intention of quitting more than a week into their sit-in.

"The real power brokers are the generals of Hosni Mubarak," said activist Hossam el-Hamalawy. "Nothing has really changed on the ground." He said ending military trials for civilians and an improved minimum wage remain high on the list of the protesters' demands.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf is delivering on a promise for a Cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to end the new round of mass protests. A final lineup is expected Monday.

The most prominent among those replaced is Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass. For more than a decade, he has been the international face of Egypt's archaeology, with his trademark "Indiana Jones" hat that turned him into an instantly recognizable global icon. Hawass, however, has been the target of a series of heavily publicized protests by archaeology graduates who accused him of corruption and seeking publicity for himself.

Google / AFP

Egypt's antiquities minister, whose trademark Indiana Jones hat made him one the country's best known figures around the world, was fired Sunday after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Zahi Hawass, long chided as publicity loving and short on scientific knowledge, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak's regime.

"He was the Mubarak of antiquities," said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. "He acted as if he owned Egypt's antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt."

Despite the criticism, he was credited with helping boost interest in archaeology in Egypt and tourism, a pillar of the country's economy.

But after Mubarak's ouster on Feb. 11 in a popular uprising, pressure began to build for him to step down.

Hawass was among a list of Cabinet ministers protesters wanted to see gone because they were associated with the former regime.

And archaeology students and professors blasted him for what they saw as his lack of serious research.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have heard that Dr Wafa'a el-Sadik was in the frame, and I would support this. It would be great for a woman to get this position.