About 15 employees of Egypt’s National Library and Archives (NLA) went on hunger strike to protest the decision to relieve Zain Abdel-Hady, the head of the NLA, of his post. The employees demanded Abdel-Hady be reappointed and allowed to continue implementing his plan to revamp the NLA.
Abdel-Hady told Ahram Online on Tuesday that he is also on a hunger strike, not to protest the minister of culture's decision not to extend his mandate as NLA chief, but in sympathy with the NLA's 15 employees.
Meanwhile, Saber Arab, Egypt’s minister of culture, told Ahram Online that his decision is final and he will not be dissuaded by employees on hunger strike.
"Choosing the leaders of this ministry and my assistants is my direct responsibility and my right according to the law and the permissions granted to me as a minister. This is my decision and I will not retreat from it."
"Fifteen employees out of 2,500 cannot determine the future of such an institution," he said.
"I hope that you all realise that when an employee's mandate is finished, and I decide not to extend it and to replace this person with another one, this is a normal thing and there is no politics in it." The minister said that he had his reasons for removing Abdel-Hady, and the causes behind the decision were "disgraceful," but that he wouldn't declare them yet.
Abdel-Hady however demanded the minister declare why he was removed, saying that he knew that Arab had told some sources close to him that it was for "security reasons."
Abdel-Hady told Ahram Arabic news portal that these reasons include him being a promoter of the April 6 Youth Movement, which opposes military rule, and other activists who participated in January 25 Revolution.
The ousted chief said that if these causes were true it would mean that the police state has returned to Egypt, as security authorities are determining the appointments of officials.
Zain Abdel-Hady, who is a professor of library sciences at Helwan University, was appointed to the post last December after Saber Arab retired from the same post when he was appointed minister of culture in the last cabinet reshuffle.
For now, Laila Galal has been appointed interim NLA supervisor for one month, until a new chief is appointed. Galal is also the director of the old National Library headquarters in Bab El-Khalq in Sayyida Zeinab, Cairo.