Sunday, November 30, 2014

Archaeology and Dictatorship: Egypt

An Egyptian court has acquitted Egypt's former dictator of charges that he instigated the killing of protesters against his rule.  Most commentators see the "verdict" as another sign that Egypt's new military dictator, General Sisi, is literally trying to rewrite history.  Meanwhile, Egypt-- which had been a place of such hope during the early days of the Arab Spring-- has again become a police state-- where  any dissent is punished as a crime against the State.

This is no time to reward General Sisi.  Yet, according to Egyptian sources, our State Department is poised to announce a new MOU with Egypt, one which was prejudged even before CPAC met to consider an Egyptian request.   Of course, the archaeological lobby cheered on that MOU from the beginning, all too willing to pretend (as it has with respect to the Assad Regime in Syria) that import restrictions benefit archaeology, not the regime that controls it in those unhappy countries.

CPO submits that any MOU with Egypt will not help Egyptian archaeology in the end.  Rather, it will only further associate ancient Egyptian artifacts with State control and once again make them a target in the next explosion of popular discontent.

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