Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reports About Detention of Iraqi PM's Relatives for Antiquity Smuggling Swept Under the Rug?

It's been almost a week since a report surfaced on the Internet that said that the Iraqi Prime Minister's brother in law and another relative had been detained at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates for smuggling Sumerian antiquities. See: http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2009/10/iraqi-pms-relatives-are-said-to-be.html

The report further stated that a high level Iraqi delegation had been sent to spring the pair:

A number of Iraqi officials including the former ambassador to Qatar Mr Sadiq al-Rikabi, Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh and Dr. Muwafaq al-Ruba'i are negotiating with the Director of the Dubai airport Mansour bin Ali al-'Utaibi to release them.

I observed that if the report were true, the preferential treatment being afforded the Prime Minister's relatives suggested that the Iraqi Government's "two-tiered" approach to antiquities offenses had not changed all that much from the days of Saddam. If you are just a "regular Joe" or a "foreigner," beware. On the other hand, if you are a member of the elite, you can pretty much do what you want.

Of course, a corollary to such a "two-tiered" approach to such issues is that the story will be swept under the rug-- and so it apparently has.

And what of the archaeological bloggers' views? Other than one "shoot the messenger" blog from Paul Barford (See http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/2009/10/two-wrongs-make-right-for-collector.html), silence.....

Are double standards at work in the archaeological community as well? Are such stories ignored because they don't fit the narrative they want to sell?

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