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Egyptian Antiquities Ministry Revolving Door: El-Banna Out Before Sworn In

Farewell, Abdel-Fattah El-Banna. We hardly knew you.

Erupting protests by Egyptian archaeologists (which I gave you a first heads-up about in my previous post) were evidently so effective that Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said, in effect, “Just kidding!” and withdrew his nomination of El-Banna to succeed Zahi Hawass as that country’s antiquities minister.

The nomination is still listed in an earlier Al-Masry Al-Youm article, but Al-Ahram apparently deleted its announcement of this and other cabinet appointments from its website. Hawass, at this writing, still hasn’t commented about his departure on his website.

According to another Al-Masry Al-Youm article, the secretariat of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities issued a statement saying that it had rejected the Prime Minister’s appointment on the grounds that El-Banna, a restoration specialist, doesn’t specialize in archaeology and should not assume the ministry’s responsibilities.
(I had given you a heads-up about this basis for the archaeologists’ opposition in my above-linked previous post.)

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm:

The statement [of the Supreme Council of Antiquities] called for dissolving the Antiquities Ministry and returning its responsibilities to the council, which it said would act as an independent, scientific institute run by specialists.

Still uncertain is whether a new antiquities minister will be named or whether the Supreme Council of Antiquities will now reign supreme. Hawass, who had previously been secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, was named to the newly created cabinet position of Minister of Antiquities in the waning days of deposed President Mubarak‘s regime.

Interestingly (to me, at least), Al-Ahram appears to be reading CultureGrrl. Its report today on the withdrawal of El-Banna’s nomination reproduced the identical (somewhat cropped) photo that I had published atop my previous post (and reused on this one). That image came from a screenshot that I had taken by pausing a YouTube video of Egypt’s almost-Minister of Antiquities.

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