Antiquities ministry fights peddler's takeover of Egyptian archaeological sites

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 1 Sep 2012

The Royal Carriage Museum in Boulaq and Cairo Northern Islamic Wall are under threat as the Cairo governorate builds permanent kiosks for peddlers

a royal carriage on display at the museum

The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) filed a complaint Saturday with the Prosecutor General implicating officials of the Cairo governorate in the encroachments on two of Egypt’s archaeological and monumental landmarks.

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mohsen Sayed claims that the Cairo governorate is building wooden and metal kiosks for peddlers in the archaeological zone of the Museum of Royal Carriages in Boulaq and Cairo's Northern Islamic Wall in the Gamaliya area.

Speaking to Ahram Online in a telephone interview, Sayed, described such construction work as a "disaster," and asserted that "It is a great violence against two of Egypt’s magnificent monuments and a real threat to our heritage."

Sayed explains that although antiquities inspectors at both sites filed reports at the Boulaq and Gamaliya Police Stations two days ago against the Cairo Governor’s Deputy and head of both Middle and South Cairo districts, construction is quickly going ahead.

He went on to complain about the aesthetics and lack of safety: the construction not only disfigures the panoramic view of both monuments but if a fire breaks out at these kiosks the whole museum and wall would become ashes.

The kiosks are ruins the panoramic view of both the Royal Carriage Museum (now undergoing restoration) and the Cairo Northern Wall, which is part of Al-Muizz Street, an open-air museum of Islamic heritage. Both site's buffer zones are being built upon, although they are protected by antiquities law no 117 for 1982 stipulating that every monument and archaeological site would be surrounded by an appropriate buffer zone.

The MSA Minister Mohamed Ibrahim formed an archaeological legal committee to take all legal procedures to stop any such constructions and to follow up on similar cases.

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