Looting of the Egyptian Museum Prevented by Egyptian Citizens
Added over 6 years ago
By Linda Heaphy
Photo by @theplayethic
While the eyes of the world are focused squarely on the volatile political situation in Egypt, a smaller drama has been quietly unfolding in Cairo at the Egyptian Museum, home to the greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world. After the burning of several important buildings on Friday, including the headquarters of President Mubarak's NDP party, observers feared the looting and destruction of the Museum would follow. But the Museum and its contents were saved by foresight of a brave group of citizens who, according to Al-Jazeera, formed a human shield around the national museum, diverting tens of thousands of rioting Egyptians away from the building and back into the main demonstration in Midan Tahrir square.
Subsequently it was reported that looters managed to gain access to the building, destroying two mummies and smashing several glass cases, although serious damage was averted by the arrival of riot police.
Video footage courtesy of Al Jazeera
Across the country similar groups of citizens have banded together to protect the country's cultural treasures, as described here in an open letter to the public by Bibliotheca Alexandrina director Ismail Serageldin:
The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighbourhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria. They are collaborating with the army. This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns. The library is safe thanks to Egypt's youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters.
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