Hawass To Be Charged?

Dr Zahi Hawass, once-king of Egyptian archaeology via his position as the (former) Minister of State for Antiquities, may face charges of breaking Egypt’s antiquities law:

General Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud on Monday referred charges of wasting public money and stealing Egyptian antiquities against Zahi Hawass, former minister of state for antiquities to the Public Fund Prosecution office.

Nour El-Din Abdul-Samad, Director of Archeological Sites, had filed the accusations against Hawass, and requested that the objects in question be returned to the Egyptian Museum.

The Public Funds Prosecution office also received other charges accusing Hawass of wasting public money and exposing Egyptian antiquities to stealing in collaboration with former regime members.

Hawass is accused of sealing a deal with the American Geographical Society to display rare Egyptian antiquities in exhibitions across the United States and Australia, violating the law of protecting antiquities.

Hawass admitted in a television talk show that he had a 17 million dollar deal with the American Geographical Society with regard to a Tutankhamun exhibition to raise donations for Suzanne Mubarak’s association, wife of former president Hosni Mubarak. Suzanne Mubarak’s association was a private association not a state body, and as such Hawass was not legally allowed to use his position as a state minister to raise funds for it.

The charges relate to Hawass agreeing to transfer and display 143 objects from the Egyptian Museum to Washington DC in 2003. The antiquities have yet to be returned to the museum.

Beyond the irony of Hawass possibly being charged for sending antiquities away from Egypt (given his long-running crusade to have stolen artefacts repatriated), I’m not sure how much of this is simply political point-scoring. These kinds of exhibitions would have had plenty of value – from education through to inspiring tourism – and it would be sad for Hawass to be convicted for simply spreading the Egypt love around. Things like the money going to the Susan Mubarak association may be more problematic for him though….

(h/t @Bennu)

Editor
  1. Harrassing Hawass
    For the most part, Zahi has had the best interests of Egypt (and its antiquities) in mind; and the people I’ve known who had extensive dealings with him, with one major exception, have said he has a more mystical and generous side in private than he lets on in public. But he made the fatal mistake of getting sloppy with his political and financial dealings, unfortunately–no doubt because he was so close to the throne that he came to believe he was bulletproof. The fact that he made so many enemies along the way didn’t help any, either. With him gone, who knows what direction the archeological future of Egypt will take–especially now that looting has become so widespread across the country in the wake of the revolution. A sad state of affairs for both him and Egypt.

      1. Escape Plan!
        It will be tough, but workable. Zahi needs to duct tape his mouth shut for a couple of days. The resultant build up of hot air in his big head will allow him to float over the border. With favorable winds, he will in no time be out of reach of the kangaroo court.

        After landing, he can dictate a tell-all book with all the closely guarded secrets of Ancient Egypt. What is really hidden in the Great Pyramid? Is there a Hall of Records under the Sphinx?Presto! Instant best-seller! I’ll even buy one. Zahi will be back to rich and obnoxious before most people can spell Tutankhamun.

        1. Tell all
          Ah Delaiah,now wouldn’t that be something, a tell all exposé of the secrets of the Giza plateau. I to would buy that book. I am sure apart from all he’s failings he holds many secrets with regards to Egypt. If only he would share them with the world.

    1. The wrong horse
      Perfectly summed up, jupiter, I agree with everything you’ve said. One only has to look at Greece, and how precarious their antiquities situation is amid the debt crisis, to see where Egyptology could quickly end up. As much as Hawass annoyed me, sometimes it’s better the devil you know.

      This really is a case of Zahi backing the wrong horse.

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