Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities, has warned he will resign if asked to hold Egypt’s antiquities portfolio in the new cabinet led by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.
Hawass told Ahram Online that his decision was taken following the failure of police to protect Egypt’s antiquities and archaeological sites.
“I cannot be the protector of Egypt’s antiquities when they are subjected to looting like that because of the police's absence,” Hawass told Ahram online. “Egypt’s antiquities are in great danger and I called all youth who were able to protect the Egyptian museum from vandals on January 29th and gather and protect Egypt’s heritage,” he asserted.
During his tenure as secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities which started in 2002, Hawass has been able to protect and preserve Egypt’s antiquities by applying a new antiquities law prohibiting antiquities trading and extending penalties for smugglers.
Hawass also succeeded in returning 5,000 precious antiquities that were illegally smuggled out of Egypt. New museums were built to house the stored items and several archaeological sites were developed and restored.