New head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Culture has feminism and cultural justice on his agenda

Mohammed Saad , Thursday 2 Jul 2015

Feminism and a better distribution of cultural resources are on the agenda of the new Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council for Culture

Egypt's Minister of Culture Abdel Wahed El-Nabawy appointed a new Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Culture.

The new Secretary General, Mohammed Abul-Fadl Badran, is an Arabic Literature Professor at Qina University, and comes from Upper Egypt.

Badran vowed in his first public statements to decentralise cultural resources and distribute services in a better way nationwide and achieve 'cultural justice' by spreading these necessities to those who can’t reach them in Upper Egypt and poor and deprived villages throughout the country.

The appointment of the new secretary general came after turmoil between the minister and the ex-secretary general Mohammed Afifi, whom the minister refused to renew the tenure of in office for unknown reasons.

The new secretary General said that he will reinforce the SCC's role against extremism in Egyptian society, through a training programme for mosque Imams, students and workers.

"Developing the SCC will include a change in the internal law of state awards with the consultation of Egypt's top intellectuals and the rules of the international literary awards, a better distribution of cultural resources and financial endowments," he said.

The plan announced to renovate the SCC included reinforcing women's roles in drawing on cultural politics by establishing a committee for feminist culture and feminist literature.

The SCC is a body that is run by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. It replaced the High Council of Arts and Culture that was founded in 1954. After the January 25 Revolution, the role of the SCC sparked controversy as some Egyptian intellectuals called for the council to replace the ministry, making it solely responsible for creating and monitoring cultural policy in Egypt.

Plans had been made to restructure the SCC during the term of Ezzeddine Choukri, who took office in May 2011 and resigned two months later. Choukri helped formulate the plan, along with more than 200 cultural activists, yet he resigned before it was implemented.

The plan outline was to reduce the number of official representatives of the state in the SCC in favour of boosting independent representatives and intellectuals, as well as turning the ministry from a producer of culture into a funding body that helps independent artists and writers and finances them. However, not all of these plans were implemented.

Another aspect was to amend the terms and conditions of the prestigious State Awards, which are granted annually. Though they are surrounded by controversy due to their transparency and whether the recipients are deserving of them.

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