Archaeologists petition new PM to remain independent from culture ministry

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 13 Jul 2013

50,000 archaeologists and antiquities ministry employees state their case to PM El-Beblawi to keep their ministry independent from the culture ministry


Fifty thousand MSA employees across Egypt signed and sent a petition to Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi to avoid the possibility of being re-merged with the culture ministry.

Rumours of re-merging the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) under the culture ministry have become a media fixture, triggering anger among Egyptian archaeologists and MSA employees as well as the Revolution's Youth Union (RYU).

The petition claims re-merging would disrupt their efficiency and organisation by disturbing established work routines and processes.

Because the MSA became independent from the culture ministry after the January 25 Revolution in 2011, the RYU argues that it is one of the benefits that should not be undone.

In a release issued today, RYU Press Attaché Omar El-Hadary calls the combining of both ministries "a mistake in a government that we want to support for success and to take the country out of it economical crisis."

The merger would negatively affect the MSA’s funds as well as its efficiency in the protection of antiquities and restoration of monuments, he added. The MSA used to direct 10 percent of its profits to the culture ministry when the two were merged; however, the MSA is a self-financed organisation says El-Hadary.

Late last week the Archaeologists' Syndicate announced its rejection of a proposal put forth by protesters occupying the culture ministry to re-merge the MSA with the culture ministry – one among an assorted list of requests addressed to caretaker President Adly Mansour. Artists and intellectuals originally started occupying the ministry for weeks demanding the removal of the Morsi-appointed culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz. Although he has now resigned they continue the occupation pressing for other demands.

The Archaeologists' Syndicate's organising committee, further urges all other concerned authorities not to interfere with the archaeologists' mission of efficiently protecting and preserving Egypt's heritage – a task they feel can be better done under the authority of their own ministry, syndicate Coordinator Salah El-Hadi tells Ahram Online. 

Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Amin suggests that if the caretaker government should want to reduce the number of ministries, the MSA could operate as a direct affiliate to the cabinet, more or less as it had pre-integration with the culture ministry in the 1990s.

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