Zahi Hawass appointed Minister of Antiquities
By Safaa Abdoun / Daily News Egypt March 30, 2011, 6:39 pm
CAIRO: Prime Minister Essam Sharaf appointed the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Zahi Hawass, as the new Minister of State for Antiquities.
The Ministry of Antiquities will immediately start implementing an ambitious program for the restoration and preservation of Egypt’s antiquities, Hawass told MENA after his meeting with Sharaf Wednesday morning.
He also announced that Sharaf will be inaugurating a series of archeological projects in Cairo and other governorates in the coming period.
Furthermore, he called on Egyptians to understand their ancient history and maintain it since the Egyptian civilization is one of the greatest civilizations in the world.
One day after former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq resigned from his post, Hawass told the media he would not participate in the new government to be led by prime minister designate Essam Sharaf, saying that he was no longer able to protect the country's antiquities because of what he called the absence of police protection and because he was the victim of a campaign against him by senior officials at his ministry, according to AP.
Hawass, the longtime head of Egypt's antiquities office, was promoted to the level of minister of state during Mubarak's reshuffle late January.
At the time, he warned that Egypt’s antiquities were in "grave danger" from criminals and called on the youth groups behind the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down to help protect antiquity sites.
"Since Mubarak's resignation, looting has increased all over the country, and our antiquities are in grave danger from criminals trying to take advantage of the current situation," he wrote on his website.
A press conference was scheduled to take place at the Egyptian Museum on Wednesday to announce the return of several artifacts which have gone missing after the looting on Jan. 28 but due to “new developments,” according to the museum’s staff, it was canceled.
The conference was to also honor Mohamed Abdel Rahman, who was responsible for finding 12 of the missing artifacts.