Friday, July 22, 2011

Sacking Zahi Hawass is a sign of Egypt's ongoing revolution

Zahi Hawass, one of Egypt's top archaeologists, symbolises the point where our proud and glorious past intersects with a bleak and uncertain present. In the mind of many Egyptians he is associated with Egypt's modern corrupt rulers rather than the great pharaohs of ancient times.

In Arabic, the word "pharaoh" always has positive connotations except when it's used to describe an absolute and ruthless ruler or manager. This is exactly the kind of pharaoh Hawass was in the eyes of many of his compatriots.

Since Hosni Mubarak's departure from office, protests that demanded the removal of Hawass from his position as minister of antiquities were uninterrupted. These were held by fellow archaeologists, the guards of heritage sites, or simply Tahrir Square protesters who see him as an antiquity that they have no interest in embalming from the era of Egypt's latest pharaoh, Mubarak. This pressure has yielded results and Hawassdid lose the job he was offered during the 18-day revolution in a cabinet shuffle that aimed, but failed, to calm down angry anti-Mubarak protesters.

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