Monday, May 14, 2012

More Looting in Egypt- But is the Prescription More of the Same?

The AP has filed this report on looting in Egypt.  See

Yet, branding poor people who dig under their own houses as "thieves" and calling for more repressive measures probably won't solve the problem.  Perhaps, the real issue is that the Egyptian State's Pharaonic approach to these issues confuses control with conservation to the detriment of the latter.

Speaking of lawbreaking, the article-- which apparently is based totally on information from archaeologists and Egyptian cultural bureaucrats-- nowhere discusses the status of the case against former Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, who has been charged with antiquities theft and corruption.

If Egyptian authorities insist on prosecuting the poor for "antiquities theft" shouldn't they also take a similarly hard line against Dr. Hawass, who, after all, was one of the major proponents of such repressive measures when he was in charge?


kyri said...

hi peter,the article actually says that it is no longer just the poor but the "educated" middle classes who are actively looting now.these people are organised and know what they are doing.
i would hardly call raiding storerooms and digging arround unesco world heritage sites "the poor digging under their houses.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Not to nitpic, but it says "educated" which could also mean poor given the Egyptian economy. Also, let's not mix things up. Of course, digging under your own house is different than digging directly on a UNESCO world heritage site or raiding a storehouse. The problem is everthing is treated the same-- that is unless of course you are one of the connected few. That was certainly the case under the Mubarak regime and its doubtful things have changed. You are missing the point of all this-- the law needs to be applied equally to Hawass and perhaps there must be a rethink of Egypt's incredibly repressive laws on the subject. State control of everthing old does no one any real good.