Egypt's controversial culture minister resigns

Ahram Online, Saturday 6 Jul 2013

Culture minister resigns after president's removal by military; artists had been demanding his resignation for two months

Culture Minister
Culture Minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz (Photo: Ahram Arabic)

Alaa Abdel-Aziz, Egypt's culture minister, resigned from his post on Saturday saying that "the coup will not succeed," stressing his rejection of Wednesday's removal of president Mohamed Morsi earlier this week.

Widely believed to have strong ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel-Aziz was sworn in at the beginning of May in a cabinet reshuffle. The minister sacked several leading culture ministry officials, including Salah El-Meleigy, head of the Fine Arts Sector, and Ines Abdel-Dayem, head of the Cairo Opera House.

Cairo Opera House artists and staff staged a strike as the curtain raised for Verdi's 'Aida' on 28 May. The opera strike continued for three more days before it resumed its activities.

After several protests demanding the culture minister's removal by several artists affiliated with the Cairo Opera House, other government culture sectors and some independent artists, protesters marched to the minister's office in Zamalek and took it over for a month-long sit-in.

While artists and some culture ministry employees occupied the building, other participants at the sit-in put on daily culture events featuring music, poetry and several performances of 'Zorba' by the Cairo Ballet Company.

The minister, however, did not leave his position due to the ongoing sit-in or protests. He clarified in a statement that his "revolutionary conscience, history as an independent culture figure, and his party's belief in Arab unity would not let him accept this coup" against democratic legitimacy.

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