‘Security reasons’ cited for sacking head of Egypt’s national library

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Egypt’s minister of culture appoints a new head of the National Library and Archives, after a source tells Ahram Online the previous chief was sacked for supporting 6 April youth movement

Zain Abdel-Hady
Photo: Ayman Hafez

Minister of Culture Saber Arab on Wednesday appoints Abdel-Nasser Hassan as chief of Egypt’s National Library and Archive (NLA) for a one-year term.

The decision is meant to block the reappointment of the former chief of the NLA, Zain Abdel-Hady, who was sacked after only 140 days in the post. A source tells Ahram Online it was in part due to the Egyptian national security body.

The decision may also stop the three weeks of turmoil at the NLA, which has been snowballing as Zain Abdel-Hady and 15 NLA employees went on hunger strike in objection to his removal.

Indicators that this story may be winding down are that Abdel-Hady declared that he called his hunger strike off after the announcement of the new chief. This will likely mean the employees will call off their hunger strike, too. Abdel-Hady said that he has no desire to be reappointed in this post again, since he is not aspiring for any power or authority.

The employees wanted Zain back to continue implementing the new strategy to develop the NLA.

The crisis began when the new minister, who has been occupying the same post before he retired in December, refused to extend Zain’s mandate as chief of the NLA, which ended on 18 May.

The minister claims that extending Abdel-Hady’s full-time contract at the NLA requires permission from Helwan University, where Abdel-Hady is still chair of Libraries and Information Sciences.

Abdel-Hady got the permission letter, yet the minister, who said he has no problem in reappointing Abdel-Hady, rejected the letter and refused justifying it to the media.

Two weeks later the minister told Ahram Online that he has good reasons to sack Abdel-Hady from his post, describing these reasons with “disgraceful.”

Theses innuendos provoked Abdel-Hady who, demanded the minister disclose these reasons.

An envoy visited the minister yesterday, to try to solve the crisis, especially that there were people on hunger strike. The envoy, who refused to reveal his identity, told Ahram Online that he failed to solve the crisis as the minister is insisting on his decision.

“Sovereign and security directories are behind the decision; they refused to approve of Zain’s mandate. However, the minister also wants to implement policies that differ from what Abdel-Hady implemented. The minister had no bad intentions, but he wants the National Library and Archives to be managed differently,” revealed the envoy.

Abdel-Hady, confirmed in a statement yesterday that he knew that the minister told some sources close to him that he was sacked for "security reasons."

Abdel-Hady told Al-Ahram Arabic news portal that these reasons include his support for the April 6 Youth Movement - which opposes military rule - and other activists who participated in January 25 Revolution.

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