Thursday, February 3, 2011

Playing with Fire

There have been reports that a pro-Mubarak mob allegedly comprised of off-duty police has been hurling "Molotov Cocktails" (petrol bombs) at anti-Mubarak protesters near the famed Egyptian Museum. See

The museum remains undamaged by fire-- so far at least. Meanwhile, more suspicions have been raised that the police and museum workers were involved in earlier looting and vandalism that took place at the museum. See And even ardent supporters of repatriation of Egyptian artifacts are starting to doubt the official "party line" as stated by Egypt's new Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass. See

Yet, the AIA and those archaeologists already clamoring for emergency restrictions on Egyptian cultural artifacts remain unwilling to openly criticize Hawass and the Murbarak government for its handling of the issue as well as the probable links between the security services and those who looted and vandalized the Museum.

This raises the question whether concerns about jeopardizing excavation permits has quieted archaeologists from raising the question who really should be held responsible for putting Egypt's unparallelled cultural treasures in jeopardy. This, of course, stands in stark contrast to the quick blame that was heaped on the US Military and the Bush Administration in the immediate aftermath of the looting of the Iraq Museum. Are double standards motivated by self-interest at work?

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