Archaeologists reject Ibrahim's reappointment as antiquities minister

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 16 Jul 2013

Former antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim regains his post in Egypt's interim government; archaeologists plan to protest outside ministry

Mohamed Ibrahim

Former minister of state for antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim has been reappointed to hold Egypt's antiquities portfolio in the new government headed by caretaker prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi.

Ibrahim first took the post in the National Rescue Government led by Kamal El-Ganzouri and continued to fill the position in Hisham Qandil's government. However, in the Cabinet reshuffle on 7 May, Ibrahim was replaced by Ahmed Eissa, dean of the Faculty of Archaeology, South Valley University.

He was reappointed as antiquities minister on Tuesday after Raafat El-Nabarawi, former dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, declined the offer.

The reappointment of Ibrahim was not welcomed by many archaeologists and employees of the Ministry of State for Antiquities who announced their plans to protest in front of the ministry in objection of Ibrahim's reappointment.

The official web page of the antiquities ministry employees announced their refusal of Ibrahim's selection and announced plans to go on strike and stage a sit-in, without specifying a time frame, in front of the ministry building in Cairo's Zamalek district to prevent him from entering.

Ahmed Shehab, assistant of the head of the Archaeologists Human Rights Care Association, said that Ibrahim did not meet the demands of the ministry's employees when he served as minister. He also said that during Ibrahim's tenure Egypt's antiquities and monuments went from bad to worse, adding that encroachment hit several of Egypt's archaeological sites, such as in Dahshur Necropolis. Ibrahim did not carry out his promises to assign newly qualified archaeologists and appoint antiquities ministry temporary employees. He also failed to remove corrupt figures in the ministry, Shehab said.

Archaeologist Marwa El-Zeini has also called for a protest against Ibrahim's reappointment in front of the Cabinet building in downtown Cairo.

Ibrahim was a chief of the Tourism Guiding English Department in the Faculty of Arts at Ain Shams University. When he took office in 2012 he was not a stranger to the Ministry of State for Antiquities' archaeological stratum as he served for eight years when the antiquities ministry was named the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). He was an antiquities inspector for the Abu Simbel temples, chief inspector of Edfu, Kom Ombo and Aswan monuments in Upper Egypt, and general director of the Saqqara district, south of Cairo.

In 1987, Ibrahim abandoned archaeological field work and moved to France where he earned a diploma and doctorate in Egyptology from Lyons University. He also received a certificate in museum management from the American Information Centre in the United States. In addition to his academic work at Alexandria and Ain Shams universities, Ibrahim supervised the museological work and interior design of the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau. 

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