Friday, March 14, 2014

"Import Restrictions" on Egyptian Cultural Goods Coming Soon?

According to an official Egyptian source,

"[Antiquities Minister] Ibrahim said he held talks with the assistants to the US Secretary of State for Educational, Cultural Affairs and Near East Affairs on means to boost cooperation between the Egyptian and the US governments to protect Egyptian cultural properties and to curb antiquities trafficking as well as restoring smuggled artifacts."

Request or no, there is every reason for extreme caution before the United States imposes import restrictions on artifacts of a sort that have been actively and legally traded between American and European collectors since at least the 19th c. at the behest of Egypt's military government.  

Our State Department constantly lectures Egyptians on the importance of the rule of law. So why rush into a MOU with Egypt particularly when: (1) there are serious questions whether the current process is a a fair one; (2) the Archaeological Institute of America itself admits that such agreements won't stop looting; and (3) any such MOU will only be used by Egypt's generals to try to bolster their own legitimacy? 

No comments: