Sunday, December 29, 2019

Transferring Karnak’s Ram sphinxes statues To Cairo’s Tahrir square is just wrong and you know it "Updated"

Updated on 30 December 2019 

Egypt's Presidency announced that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was following the plans to renovate Cairo's Tahrir square and to add to it ancient Egyptian monuments like other world-famous squares.

The lawyers Egyptian Center of Economic and Social Rights filed a lawsuit Monday morning in front of the administrative court to stop the government's decision to transfer monuments from its original place on behalf of  Dr.Monica Hanna, MP Haithem El-Hariri and lawyer Tarek Awady.

Egypt’s government decided suddenly that it was going to beautify Tahrir square by taking monuments from across the country and installing it in our most famous square.

The ministry of antiquities has begun to transfer 4 Ram sphinxes statues or as commonly known in the Egyptian press as sphinxes from World famous Karnak temple in order to put in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as part of its plan to beautify the famous square.

The crane in Karnak temple
The crane in Karnak temple transferring the sphinxes "Bab Masr"
This is completely wrong and against international treaties which Egypt had signed that state monuments should not be transferred from its original place and setting unless there is a danger threatening their safeguard.

Many people were shocked including archeologists in Egypt to hear that news and more people are in disbelief to see that crank inside the Karnak. 

According to the Egyptian Heritage Focused website Bab Masr, Egyptian tourist guides and locals in Luxor city do not support this decision and are against but no one cares for their opinion.

The poorly designed Tahrir square’s Obelisk and sphinxes setting is worse than the decision.

Alleged Tahrir square design
The alleged design from Dr. Loban Abdel Aziz's Facebook page
What is worst for real is the comments of the ministry of antiquities officials to justify their actions.
“The four ram sphinxes are not from the famous Avenue of Sphinxes that once connected Karnak and Luxor temples, the source said, but are from the first courtyard behind Karnak’s first pylon,” said Mostafa El-Sagheer, the General Director of Karnak monuments adding that those chosen sphinxes were left by the ancient Egyptian besides the clay buildings during the construction of the temple !!

In other words “They are not that important or valuable as the ones in the avenue” as far as I understood, unfortunately.
The Ram sphinxes inside Egypt's Karnak temple
The location of where the ram sphinxes are taken 
Several Egyptian archeologists are shocked and angry over this decision.
Renowned Egyptian archeologist Monic Hana hinted out on her official Twitter account the decision violates the 1964 Venice Charter for the Conversation and Restoration of Monuments and sites specifically its 7th article which stipulates the following :
A monument is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it or where it is justified by the national or international interest of paramount importance.
According to Hana, that charter became part of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, which Egypt signed.

Needless to say, Monic Hana had a debate with the Pro-regime supporters who support the decision blindly without paying attention to what she says.
The Ram sphinxes inside Egypt's Karnak temple
Another shot from the location of those "less important sphinxes" inside the Karnak 
Those supporters had the balls if I may say to tell her that she does not know better !!
Supporters of the decisions claim that there is nothing wrong and that UK and France got Egyptian monuments in their public squares and we should follow their steps.

The avenue of Ram sphinxes in Egypt Karnak temple
The famous ram sphinxes at the Ram Sphinxes Avenue of Karnak temple in Luxor 
Unfortunately, those supporters forgot that those monuments transferred to the UK and France as well as other foreign countries without the consent of the Egyptian people during the epic age of colonialism.

Not only Karnak’s sphinxes to be transferred to Cairo

Already the Egyptian ministry of antiquities had transferred an obelisk from Sharkia governorate’s San El-Haggar archaeological site aka Tanis to be part of this new Tahrir square setting.
Unfortunately, Tanis is less famous than Karnak and thus no one paid attention to what is taking place there.
The avenue of Ram sphinxes in Egypt Karnak temple
The famous Ram Sphinxes avenue at the entrance of Karnak temples complex in Luxor 
Instead of promoting for Tanis or San El-Haggar archeological site as a tourist attraction and bring more income to the Nile Delta governorate, the Egyptian government decided to empty the site from its obelisk.

Already I feel sad about why the ministry of antiquities is insisting on shipping any newly discovered monuments whether mummies or statues to Cairo to the Grand Egyptian Museum instead of leaving it in its location in order to promote archeological tourism around the country for real !!

The avenue of Ram sphinxes in Egypt's Karnak temple
The avenue of Ram sphinxes in Egypt's Karnak temple in Luxor 
It is another ugly face of this Cairo centralization I am afraid.

I do not know how those monuments would survive a populated area like Tahrir square with all the cars and the people as well as pollution and erosion effects. 

I do not know either why the government and Cairo governorate did not think of doing replicas of those ancient monuments or even commission artists to create real artworks for Tahrir square.
Earlier this year the Egyptian government transferred King Ramses II obelisk from Zamalek island to New Alamein city despite the concerns of archeologists.

The avenue of Ram sphinxes in Egypt's Karnak temple
The Karnal temple's Ram sphinxes avenue from another angle 
Just like what is happened in Heliopolis from the rush in building the endless number of bridges and eradicating any green place in that once upscale neighborhood without listening to its residents.

Despite we pay taxes, Egyptian citizens are considered like foreigners when Egyptian officials take such decisions.
We pay taxes but without proper representation and we are paying the price for our silence on what has been happening for a long time.
The avenue of Ram sphinxes in Egypt's Karnak temple
The ram sphinxes of Karnak temple

I do not need to say that such a decision would not have been taken and implemented in that way if we are a truly democratic country with local councils and a truly representative parliament.
This is a fact and we will continue to pay the price for that till God knows when.

Nevertheless, some people are still trying to stop this huge mistake from happening using what they can do.
Opposition Pro-25 January revolution Parliamentarian Haitham El-Hariri presented an urgent statement to the Egyptian House of Representatives in order to question the Prime minister over the transfer of the monuments to Tahrir square in violations to international treaties.

Dr. Monica Hanna made an online petition to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to stop the transfer. She will represent it to a presidential advisor in the Egyptian Presidency.

Hanna hinted out that the Egyptian Presidency stopped similar decisions concerning antiquities after petitions from archeologists. The first time when a real estate development project was planned on an archeological site near North Coast's Marina Al-Alamein and while the second time when Sharm El-Sheikh governorate wanted to transfer a Roman bath in North Sinia to South Sinai's museum.

Some wondered why those small actions when it seemed that there is no use. Well, it is better than doing nothing.

At least in the future when the future generations will know that there have been few who tried to do things rights despite all odds.

FYI, you can check my old post for my old visit to the Karnak temple complex here.

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