Thursday, 5 May 2011

Egyptian Museum "Kerfuffle"

Kate Phizackerley briefly mentions the kerfuffle caused by complaints emerging from the otherwise silent Egyptian Museum staff in Cairo that it is "unfair" to read MSAA press releases with a critical eye (Bloggers and Egyptology) May 04, 2011. She is referring to the comments of Yasmin el-Shazly on my blogging about my attempts to understand what has been happening to the antiquities from the Museum collections (here and here). Phizackerly notes:
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. [...] 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. [...] I suspect as Egyptian media become more inquisitive 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 organisations do - but maybe they will understand that the process is a fundamental part of democracy.
Obviously museums should be fully accountable to the public for whom they claim to be curating cultural property. Here, one gets the feeling that nobody sees any need to account for the many discrepancies and questions in the official reports of what has been happening in the Egyptian Museum. I hope there is an official enquiry when a new government is brought in into both the events of 28th January as well as subsequent actions taken by the bodies concerned and responsible dissemination of information and that a full report is prepared and published. What is there to hide?

[The comment by Tim on Kate's blog is of interest, though unlike him, I am not so sure it is true that the "shield" of dictatorship has been lifted at all in the area we are discussing].

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