Artists to bring their touch to Egypt's 30 June protests

Ati Metwaly, Saturday 29 Jun 2013

Protesters from Egypt's culture scene will begin their 30 June protest in front of the culture ministry, banging wooden clogs to evoke the story of medieval female ruler Shagaret El-Dor

Inside the occupied Ministry of Culture, ground floor, 29 June 2013. (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

A group of Egyptian artists and intellectuals who have been protesting the appointment of a new culture minister since May have announced that they will join planned anti-government protests on Sunday.

Maha Effat, the spokesman for the group of Egyptian artists and intellectuals who have been occupying parts of the ministry of culture since 5 May, told Ahram Online that the group will gather on Sunday in front of the ministry and will begin their march to Tahrir Square at 4pm.

"The artists plan to create a loud sound with wooden clogs which they will be carrying," Effat explained. The clogs are a reference to 13th century Egyptian ruler Shagaret El-Dor, who sat on the throne following death of her husband Sultan Al-Salah Ayyub and took the title of Sultan.

The street in Cairo’s Zamalek district where the ministry of culture is located is named after the ruler.

The sultana’s seven-year reign (1250-1257) ended when she had her second husband Aybek murdered, and as a result, was stripped and beaten to death with wooden clogs.

"We will start our call for the rally with the sound of wooden clogs at 3pm," Effat said.

"Then at 4pm, we will start walking towards the Cairo Opera House to join artists who will gather there. Eventually we will be also joined by another march that will move from a nearby Zamalek club. The whole group will then head to Tahrir Square."

Effat stressed that the occupation of the culture ministry will continue. "Older artists will probably stay in the ministry, while the younger generation will be between the Tahrir protests and the ministry building," Effat said, adding that artists and intellectuals will not give up until "Egypt is completely liberated from the current regime."

"Over the past 25 days of the ministry occupation, we showed the Egyptian people that we are entitled to claim our institutions. Neither ministry of culture, nor any other governmental institution, can be taken by the hands of the current regime," Effat said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood. "We have to liberate the whole Egypt from their influence."

A day before the planned protests, Shagaret El-Dor Street is still hosting daily artistic performances by the group. On Saturday evening there will be a concert by renowned musician Ali El-Haggar and a performance of parts of the ballet Zorba, as well as other artistic activities.

On 5 June, dozens of prominent artists and intellectuals broke into Egypt's ministry of culture, declaring an open-ended sit-in inside the building until minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz is replaced.

The current crisis in Egypt's cultural scene started in May when the culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz took office, despite opposition to the relatively unknown figure’s appointment from many within the culture scene. The opposition became more heated when Abdel-Aziz began a series of dismissals of key figures within Egypt’s cultural institutions.

Artwork prepared by the artists inside the Ministry of Culture, and caricature of culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz, saying "Who are you?", a reference to a famous statement by former ruler of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi when addressing Libyan protesters. 29 June 2013.(Photo: Ati Metwaly)

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