Monday, October 11, 2010

Egyptian Cleric Says Antiquities Rightfully Belong to Landowner

PhDiva has drawn my attention to this bru ha ha over an Egyptian cleric's view that antiquities rightfully belong to the landowner and not the State. See

According to the report,

Hassan, a prominent preacher, currently presents a program on the Salafi-affiliated al-Rahma channel. The program, which is aired live, features inquiries via phone calls and he answers them on the spot.

In response to a telephone call regarding Islam’s position on selling antiquities, Hassan said, “If it is found on land that you own, or in your house, then it is yours by right and you are not doing anything wrong.”

As for antiquities which are found on a public land, Hassan explained, a Muslim is prohibited from selling them, advising that he should re-bury them.

The people who filed the complaint argue that this fatwa means that all antiquities discovered on private land are the possessions of the owner of that land, and that he has the right to sell and profit from them. This contradicts the law, which punishes any private circulation of antiquities.

The preacher's view reflects the Koran's respect for private property, a theme that also runs through English law and the "takings clause" of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It would be interesting to learn whether those who filed a complaint against the preacher are archaeologists or associated in some fashion with Egypt's cultural bureaucracy.

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