Tuesday,18 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1179, (9 - 15 January 2014)
Tuesday,18 September, 2018
Issue 1179, (9 - 15 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Recaptured antiquities

POLICE seized more than 1,500 illegally excavated ancient artefacts on Monday.

The antiquities seized during a raid on a house in Zawiyat Abu Musallem, a Cairo suburb, included ancient statues, amulets and limestone false doors of the type commonly built in ancient Egyptian tombs as a threshold to the afterlife.

The chaos in Egypt since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has allowed for increased theft of antiquities and illegal digging. In August, thieves broke into a museum in southern Egypt, making off with more than 1,000 artefacts.

In a statement issued late on Monday, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the 1,524 artefacts were of important archaeological value and spanned different eras of ancient Egyptian civilisation.

“The variety of the seized antiquities indicates that they are the result of illegal digging by armed gangs,” Ibrahim said. Ammunition found in the possession of a suspect underscored “the danger of these organised crimes that carry out digs in secret and trade illegally in Egyptian antiquities,” he said.

Calls to restore AU membership

EGYPT has urged the African Union (AU) to restore the country’s membership suspended after the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi. During his two-day visit to Algeria, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi said that the decision to freeze Egypt’s membership in the African Union “was wrong and did not take into consideration the specific circumstances that Egypt was facing.”

Fahmi called on the AU Peace and Security Council to review the decision quickly, saying “Egypt is in the process of issuing a new constitution, ahead of bringing back the constitutional structure into force.”

The council froze Egypt’s membership on 5 July 2013, only two days after the ouster of Morsi, ruling that it was “unconstitutional” to remove a democratically elected president. The council also suspended Egypt from all union activities. Egypt has sent delegations to African nations to lobby for the lifting of the suspension.

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, former chairman of the council, said the suspension of Egypt’s membership was a “precautionary measure intended to encourage it to restore work with the constitution in Egypt.”

Last week Wednesday, the Algerian minister said that Algeria was “trying to help Egypt overcome difficulties,” calling on groups in the country to be “patient and remember our history,” adding that “the principle of non-interference does not mean indifference”.

Lamamra also said that a group of diplomats were preparing a report to present to the African Union to “indicate what critical steps” have been made to enable Egypt to regain its previous position in the African Union.

Retrial verdict in March

ON 3 MARCH Alexandria Criminal Court will issue its verdict in the retrial of two policemen accused of killing Khaled Said, whose killing helped trigger the popular revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

The court heard on Monday the defendant’s lawyer Ihab Abdel-Aziz argue the killing in June 2010 was a Zionist plot to harm the Mubarak regime.

Abdel-Aziz went on to claim Said was not “killed but rather committed suicide” by swallowing a packet of drugs, repeating a common claim circulated by Mubarak-affiliated media outlets prior to the January 2011 Revolution. Said was reportedly targeted because he possessed video footage of police sharing the spoils of a drug bust.

In October 2012, the two policemen were sentenced to seven years in jail for the illegal imprisonment and torture of Said. Both prosecution and defence appealed the original sentence.

Abu Ismail trial postponed

THE TRIAL of prominent Salafi preacher and former presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail was postponed to 5 April.

Abu Ismail is being charged with the libel and defamation of police officers after a clip circulating on the Internet showed him saying that “the police need to be overhauled”. He is also facing the same charges after allegedly referring to police as “dogs” and “scum” on 30 December. The complaint was filed by the officers who were the alleged victims of the assault.

Abu Ismail is also charged with forging official documents during his application to run for president. Election Law 174, drafted in 2005 and amended in 2012, stipulates that both parents for any presidential candidate must hold the Egyptian nationality. Abu Ismail was accused of lying about the nationality of his mother, who reportedly holds American citizenship. The leader of Al-Rayah Party is facing charges regarding presenting documents forging his mother’s nationality. The trial was postponed during the last court session, 19 December, to 20 January.

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