Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford has made the case that Egyptian cultural bureaucrats have pulled the excavation permit of American archaeologists from Brigham Young University because they disagree with the tenants of their Mormon faith and not because of some "misunderstanding" about the number of "mummies" they have found in a cemetery unearthed at the site of Fag El Gamous in Fayoum.
While Barford approves of such intolerance, CPO does not. One's religious beliefs (or lack thereof) should never come into play in deciding whether to award excavation permits or not.
So, how will the US State Department, which supposedly promotes religious freedom as a core objective of American foreign policy, respond?
And will the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities put even 1/10th the effort lobbying the Egyptian Government on behalf of the Brigham Young archaeologists and their religious freedom as it has lobbying the U.S. Government for "emergency import restrictions" on Egyptian cultural goods?
Or, will both just shrug, and celebrate the expected announcement of the pre-judged MOU with Egypt in early 2015 as if the country was still a democracy, albeit an imperfect one?
If there is any time to rethink a MOU with Egypt, its's now. Any need for "emergency restrictions" has long since passed. And, anyway, its no time to reward the generals for possible spying (presumably on behalf of the Chinese) or their continuing crackdown on dissent, which most recently included refusing entry to a prominent US scholar and democracy supporter.