Al-Wafd Party investigates alleged antiquities trafficking scheme involving members

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 10 Jul 2024

Egypt's oldest political party, Al-Wafd, strives to clear its reputation by investigating some of its members who were allegedly shown in a leaked video discussing the trafficking of ancient artefacts.

Al-Wafd
File photo of Al-Wafd Party leader and former presidential candidate Abdel-Sanad Yamama

 

The video, which has caused an uproar among Egyptians, appears to have been recorded on a mobile camera during a clandestine meeting allegedly held in the party’s headquarters.

In the video, one party member can be heard asking another to coordinate with an individual who possesses “the two pieces” in Giza’s Mansouriya village and requesting photos of them.

Unauthorized archaeological digging and antiquities trafficking and smuggling are strictly prohibited under Egyptian law, carrying severe penalties that reach life imprisonment and fines of up to EGP 10 million in some cases.

Egypt, a country with a rich civilization spanning millennia, holds a wealth of priceless Pharaonic, Greek, Roman and other artefacts. While many treasures have been discovered, countless secrets remain hidden.

Security authorities have conducted extensive crackdowns on individuals involved in illegal digging and trafficking, including prominent figures, to safeguard the nation's heritage.

Investigations underway
 

In response to the leaked videos, an investigative committee formed by the Al-Wafd Party has unanimously decided to suspend the memberships of Safeer El-Sayed Nour and Abdel-Wahab Sayed Mahfouz.

The committee stated that the two members would not be allowed to enter the party's headquarters except for interrogation regarding the incident.

Abdel-Sanad Yamama, the party's leader and former presidential candidate, expressed doubt about whether the video was captured inside the party's headquarters, noting discrepancies between the background in the video and the actual party setting.

Yasser El-Hodiby, a Senate member and party spokesman, confirmed that the individuals in the video are indeed party members but dismissed rumours that they were leaders.

El-Hodiby emphasized that the investigation is ongoing to determine whether the incident occurred within the party's headquarters.

He added that according to the party's bylaws the political consequences for such actions "range from blame to termination of membership." At the same time, the legal aspect of the incident falls under the jurisdiction of the Public Prosecution.

Joint call for reform
 

The incident has prompted a joint statement by prominent politicians and symbols of the party, including veteran diplomat Amr Moussa, Honorary President of the party; renowned politician Mahmoud Abaza, former party president, and Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, former Minister of Industry and former party secretary.

The statement calls for “comprehensive political reform” against the backdrop of the incident.

“What is currently circulating on social media seriously damages the reputation of the Al-Wafd party and instigates discord among its members,” the statement emphasized.

They added that such an incident also diminishes the dignity of the original Wafdists, who bravely fought for Al-Wafd's principles of freedom, democracy, and human rights.

The statement called upon Wafdists to unite and “safeguard Al-Wafd from the misconduct of saboteurs who infiltrated (the party).”

They additionally noted that these individuals receive “covert support," which harms Al-Wafd and undermines the Egyptian political landscape.

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