The new head of the Egyptian National Library and Archives, Khaled Fahmy, told Ahram Online on Monday that he has Islamist leanings.
“I am a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideas, especially as put forth in the works of its founder Hassan El-Banna,” said Fahmy, a professor of Arabic literature at Menoufiya University.
"I’m not a member of the Brotherhood or the Freedom and Justice Party but I belong to them at the intellectual and ideological level."
Fahmy was appointed last week by embattled culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz, who has attracted the ire of many members of Egypt’s arts and culture scene in recent weeks with his sackings of high profile officials.
Intellectuals and artists accuse the minister of implementing a Muslim Brotherhood agenda that aims to “destroy Egyptian culture.”
On Wednesday, a group of protesters broke into the culture ministry and have been 'occupying' Abdel-Aziz’s office since then, preventing the minister from entering or issuing official memos.
Fahmy, who replaced Abdel-Nasser Hassan, sparked controversy when, after his appointment, he sacked the head of the National Archives, Abdel-Wahed El-Nabawe, and four other senior officials.
On Saturday, Fahmy sacked El-Nabawe, scientific institutions head Mohammed Sabry El-Daly, historical headquarters head Iman Ezzeddine, quality control head Nevine Mahmoud and head of manuscripts administration Sobhy Ashour.
Fahmy told Ahram Online that he sacked the five officials because he wanted to promote younger, more efficient and more specialised clerks, and also because of some “rumours” of financial corruption and mismanagement by those sacked.
He added that he had not investigated these rumours because he "didn’t have enough time" in this turbulent period.
"The revolution brought me to this post, and I said this to the people working here," Fahmy said. "I wanted to promote the efficient and professional people working in this institution and give them the chance to be senior officials."
"I’m not an investigator and I can’t say whether these people are corrupt or not. There are problems in the management of this facility and I wanted to fix them," Fahmy continued.
“Some of the workers here complained to me of inappropriate treatment by some of the people I sacked and there was some evidence of financial corruption, so I decided to end this all,” he added.
The National Library and Archives, located in central Cairo, are one of Egypt’s most important heritage institutions. The library, which houses important historical collections, is the largest in Egypt.
Technically, Fahmy does not have the right to sack Abdel-Wahed El-Nabawe, as the appointment or termination of the head of the National Archives can only be done by ministerial decree.
However, Fahmy said that he had been given ministerial privileges by the culture minister in this respect.
Fahmy also said that he had consolidated the security procedures required of researchers seeking access to historical archives.
Access to the archives has typically been difficult, with researchers needing the permission of Egyptian National Security in order to be allowed in.
Fahmy said that he will consolidate this security oversight.
"Researchers have to get permission from National Security to be granted access to historical archives, but now I increased this, as I issued a decree on Monday that requires not only researchers but those who make use of this research to get permission from National Security too," he said.
He explained that the measures were necessary because Egypt is experiencing a transition and a period of lax security.