Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A kerfuffle has broken out with the Yasmin el-Shazly, head of documentation at the Egyptian Museum, complaining that bloggers have been unfairly critical of the Museum, and especially Paul Barford and follows on from complaints by other officials that Hawass was being unfairly criticised for the clothing photoshoot.

At some point I may get in to the details of the argument, but the more important observation is that MSAA officials are clearly unused to investigative journalism and independent blogging.  Until recently, bloggers who criticise the Government have been arrested in Egypt.  Indeed, the Military Council has continued the practice.  The pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanadhas been arrested and imprisoned for criticising the Egyptian Army.  The story is on Huffington Post.

Local media like Ahram notoriously stuck to an NDP party line.

So its really not surprising that MSAA officials are unused to people critically examining press releases and announcements and it is obvious they find the experience uncomfortable.  They seem to feel that a museum like the Met or the British Museum would be treated differently and to an extent they are correct; however, those museums wouldn't normally issue press releases through a government minister, a process which inevitably politicises press releases. 

I suspect as Egyptian media become more inquistive that MSAA officials will realise that they are not, in fact, being treated unfairly.  I doubt they will grow to like people checking press releases for consistency - few orgnisations do - but maybe they will understand that the process is a fundamental part of democracy.


tim said...

Gosh half the reason I blog on this subject is to be critical of a dictatorship run society and those at the Cairo museum need to grow thicker skin now that they are without the veil of dictatorship. Those at the Cairo museum need to understand that untold millions of dollars are brought to this museum from tourists while untold millions of foreign dollars have in reality acquired and brought to the museum many if not most of its best artifacts including the Tutankhamun collection through funding of excavations

One minute those artifacts are turning to dust in their outdated cases while robbers are entering the museum. The museum then goes on to present laughable images and crude drawings of objects from their dusty ledgers.

This is one of the worlds great collections and the caretakers at the museum appear to be unable to correctly manage this collection and as Dr. Hawass points out continuously that Egypt's monuments belong not only to her but to the world!

Patrick said...

Ms. el-Shazly might be better employed bringing her museum's database finally into the 21st century rather than blaming others for her organization's shortcomings. She should also realise that all this kerfuffle has originates from her boss's odd way of dealing with information about any aspect of Egyptology (and haute couture) you care to name.

Patrick said...

The noose tightens. Who will be next?

Stephanie said...

If all cases of corruption amongst members of the former or current government are going to be investigated there certainly will be much more of this.
At least Garana does not appear to be minister anymore unlike Hawass who magically got rid of his sentence and enjoys life and his job as if nothing had happened.

Marianne Luban said...

The example of Sanad and others goes to show how difficult it is to establish a true democracy in the Middle East, a very old part of the world where "might makes right" has been the custom for centuries. We are so used to freedom of speech [mostly] and our western heads of state get criticized so routinely that we can no longer fathom the mindset that considers criticism treason.
The east and the west are in different stages of political evolution. In England, it seems ages since people lost their heads for trivial reasons, all called "treason", and the witchhunt for communists in the US now seems just plain weird. This and other unhappy episodes occurred in a democracy with a constitution and a bill of rights. It all boils down to people having a great need to control others. It's the same thing on the Internet. In my 15 years online I have been struck by nothing so much as how much certain people want control. And, yes, to exert censorship. It's a never ending game, this single facet of human nature.

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