Egypt

09/11/2011

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Lots of things are happening in Egypt, politically and in the SCA. Elections are being talked about this month, but it could be later. There is no doubt there is discontent from those who helped drive the old government out about the pace of change, the role of the army, and the presence of old regime figures in the government. There has also been an unwelcome increase in sectarian troubles, with a particularly unpleasant attack against Copts on 9 October, in which government involvement was claimed, and a general feeling that tensions are on the rise. Let us hope that a new government will be in place before long and they will try and defuse some of this.

In my last post, I left the SCA with a new leader in September, Mohamed Abdel Fattah. However, he resigned after only three weeks in office, claiming he had no powers to make any decisions. The government then appointed Mustafa Amin as his successor at the end of September, who is presently in office. But there is still an undercurrent of discontent within the SCA, and we hear of demonstrations and protests about promised changes not happening. Truly the pent-up frustration of the Mubarek years is coming out; the most recent example was the firing of Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the Supreme Committee of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM); he was removed from his post at the end of October following protests by employees.

No doubt the uncertainty is having an effect on tourism, which is down considerably (perhaps 42%) on usual, and of course we are now in the prime tourist season. It is more important that the country sorts itself out rather than worry about tourism, but then again tourism has been the number 1 currency earner for a number of years, and so people in areas dependent on tourism will be suffering. Rumours still come out of possible thefts. On the Egyptology fieldwork front, we hear that permissions for a number of foreign missions have now been granted, as the whole archaeological process has, unsurprisingly, been largely in limbo since February.

 


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