SCC head resigns to protest sackings by Egypt's new culture minister

Mohammed Saad , Wednesday 29 May 2013

Head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Culture (SCC) resigns after several culture ministry officials are sacked by newly-appointed minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz

Professor Said Tawfik
Professor Said Tawfik, Head of the SCC

Professor Said Tawfik, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council for Culture (SCC), resigned on Wednesday to protest the recent dismissal of three senior culture ministry officials by newly-appointed culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz.

Tawfik told Ahram Online that his resignation was "final," stressing that he would not change his mind under the current circumstances, "in which culture is being humiliated and is under fierce attack by the Muslim Brotherhood."

The Brotherhood is the group from which President Mohamed Morsi hails. His critics usually argue that the powerful Islamic group is the de facto ruling body of Egypt.

"It's clear to us now that there's a plan to destroy Egyptian culture," Tawfik alleged.

Tawfik's resignation comes one day after Abdel-Aziz dismissed Ines Abdel-Dayem, head of the Cairo Opera House, from her post.

Abdel-Dayem was the third senior culture official to be sacked by the new minister – after Ahmed Mujahid, head of the Egyptian General Book Authority, and Salah El-Meligy, head of the Fine Arts Sector – since he took office three weeks ago.

"The minister has sided with writers and MPs who have attacked the SCC and called for its suspension," said Tawfik.

"He did not oppose calls to reduce the budgets of cultural institutions and cancel the state prizes that are awarded by the SCC."

Members of the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt's parliament (currently endowed with legislative powers), have demanded that the SCC budget be reduced, along with the value of state cultural and artistic prizes awarded by the state.

Tawfik, a philosophy professor at Cairo University, presented his written resignation to the new culture minister earlier this week, but it had been rejected by the latter.

He had later decided to remain at his post, but the latest sackings prompted him to change his mind once again.

The SCC is considered one of the most important parts of Egypt's culture ministry, as it is responsible for setting ministry policies and organising ministry activities.

The SCC is also responsible for granting state cultural prizes, which are traditionally announced each June.

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