Many of Egypt’s leading artists and intellectuals are demanding the removal of the country’s newly appointed minister of culture. Their concerns revolve around, among other things, the perception that Alaa Abdel-Aziz is attempting to destroy Egypt’s culture:
The intellectuals, including writers and artists, also released a handwritten statement, condemning the newly-appointed Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel-Aziz. “The intellectuals, writers and artists inside the ministry announce their rejection of the minister…, who has embarked on his plan to destroy national culture,” the statement said. “They [protesting artists] declare that they will not accept the presence of a minister that does not fulfil the aspirations of intellectuals to cultivate a culture that lives up to the hopes of the great revolution since it started on 25 January 2011 and achieves its goals.”
Abdel-Aziz outraged the artistic community by dismissing members involved in the country’s top artistic institutions. There are suspicions that the moves were made with an eye toward promoting the Islamist agenda of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood-linked government. The Shura Council, the Islamist dominated upper chamber of Egypt’s legislature, has pushed for reducing funds for foreign art projects.
She said the sackings and budget cuts reflected the increasingly polarised nature of Egyptian politics, in which Islamist-dominated state institutions were trying to impose their religious morals upon artistic institutions which challenge the status quo. For example, she said, in the shura council last week Gamal Hamed, a member of the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party, called for ballet to be banned, branding it “the art of nudity”.
The protestors demanded the dismissal of Minister Alaa Abdel Aziz, and chanted anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans. They rejected the recent decisions by the Culture Minister to sack some of the ministry leaders “without any obvious reasons, and in a random manner.” They accused the minister of imposing a Muslim Brotherhood agenda on Egyptian culture. Protestors against the minister included well-known intellectuals, writers, artists and members of cultural movements, such as “The Creativity Front.”
[Photo: AhramOnline / Youtube]