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A British museum’s decision to sell a 4,400-year old-Egyptian statue for a surprising $27 million at auction in London on Thursday has ignited an uproar in England over the propriety of the sale.
The 30-inch-high limestone statue, which represents Sekhemka, described as a high-ranking royal scribe, was sold at Christie’s by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, a town-owned museum located 67 miles outside of London, to finance an expansion. The auction house had estimated the work would sell for between $7 million and $11 million and described the ultimate sale price as a world record at auction for a work of ancient Egyptian art.
The statue had been donated to the town in 1880 by the 2d Marquis of Northampton who had purchased it during a trip to Egypt in 1850, long before Egyptian laws, international treaties or British codes and regulations constrained such acquisitions. The statue has been in storage since 2010.
While acknowledging the sale was legal, the Egyptian government, British museum officials and some residents of Northampton tried to block it on moral grounds. In a statement, Egypt’s ambassador to Britain, Ashraf Elkholy, said: “Sekhemka belongs to Egypt and if the Northampton borough council does not want it then it must be given back. It’s not ethical that it will be sold for profit and is also not acceptable.”
Two London-based groups that accredit English museums opposed the sale and said they would reconsider the Northampton museum’s accreditation. Such accreditation is necessary for museums to seek public funding.
The town said the money would be used to double the size of its museum. Northampton will retain $13.8 million of the sale price and pay about $10.4 to the current Lord Northampton, under the terms of an agreement signed at the time of the 19th century donation. The remaining $2.8 million reflects the buyer’s premium.
Christie’s declined to identify the buyer.
Scott Furlong, who oversees acquisition standards for Arts Council England, said he feared the public would deem the sale “cynically motivated.” He said his group would assess the Northampton Museum’s accreditation status on July 24.
“It is of great importance that the public retain trust in museums,” he added.
David Fleming, chairman of the Museum Association’s ethics committee, said that, while it appreciates the financial pressures many museums face, his group’s code provides for such a sale only after other sources of funding have been thoroughly explored. He said his group warned the museum that it could lose its accreditation over the sale.
The Egyptian government has been aggressive in reclaiming ancient artifacts — those stolen and smuggled abroad during the country’s recent years of instability and also those acquired centuries ago by colonial explorers.
In defending the auction, David Mackintosh, head of the Northampton Borough Council, said the proceeds were essential to the museum’s well-being. “I can categorically state,” he said,” no other items from the museum’s collection will be sold off. Sekhemka was an exceptional case.”
A total of 26 Egyptians arrived at Cairo International Airport after having been deported by Italian authorities for illegally accessing Italian territory by sea, Youm7 reported.
A source at the airport told Youm7 that they boarded an Egyptian plane from Catania in Sicily after they managed to arrive to Italy in a boat provided by brokers.
Twelve of the Egyptians are from Cairo, 10 are from Alexandria and four are from Ismailia, the source said.
The most recent statistics from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicate that 100,000 people of different nationalities illegally emigrate from Egypt each year, and economic hardship is one reason behind illegal emigration, Youm7 reported IOM MENA Regional Director Pasquale Lupoli as saying at a December workshop in Cairo.
IOM Project Coordinator Amr Taha said at the same workshop that IOM launched voluntary and rehabilitation projects to encourage illegal immigrants to return to Egypt and start their own business upon returning.
The National Center for Social and Criminological Research (NCSCR) in coordination with the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) launched a four-day training program to combat human trafficking and illegal immigration in March, Youm7 reported.
Egypt’s Mediterranean shore has been used by Africans to illegally immigrate to Europe, and since the instability in Syria in 2011, Syrians have also resorted to illegal immigration from Egypt.
In October 2013, following the death of 12 migrants whose boat capsized near the Egyptian port of Alexandria, the European Union voted to launch a maritime surveillance system aimed at preventing further migrant disasters, according to the BBC.
Additional reporting by Mohamed Al-Alem, Rany Mostafa and Hanan Fayed.
par Par Djamila Ould Khettab
Alors que les habitants de la bande de Gaza vivent leur cinquième jour sous le feux des attaques aériennes d’Israël et que le nombre total de victimes s’élève à plus d’une centaine de personnes, les Palestiniens déplorent le silence des pays arabes et musulmans.
“Les Egyptiens sont devenus fous”
“Aucun endroit sécurisé”
Des adieux tous les jours
Courrier International VU D'ÉGYPTE • Un soutien frileux à Gaza Courrier International Le gouvernement égyptien a accepté l'ouverture du tunnel de Rafah, qui relie la bande de Gaza à l'Egypte, afin de permettre l'évacuation des blessés des attaques...
By Jihad Abaza
Sanaa Seif and other detainees in Qanater prison refused to meet the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) delegation Monday, saying that other detainees are subject to more abuse.
Leila Sweif, Sanaa’s mother, said that the detained activists decided to delegate Yara Sallam (award winning rights activist who is also detained) and Salwa Mehrez to inform the NCHR delegation that if they want to know the reality of the situation in prison, they should be meeting other detainees who are in much worse condition and experience more abuse.
Karima El-Seirfy, daughter of Amin El Seirfy, has spent over thirty days on hunger strike in protest of mistreatment inside Qanater Prison. El-Seirfy was was arrested from her home last April, an arrest her mother said was to pressurise her father, a close affiliate of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
El-Seirfy’s hunger strike came after prison guards ordered cellmates to beat her and her colleagues and steal their belongings, said El-Serify’s mother at a solidarity conference on 20 June.
“The Islamist girls are subjected to a lot of abuse, and they should be getting visits from the delegation,” Sweif added, referring to Sara Khaled, Karima El-Seirfy, and other Al-Azhar students detained in Qanater.
State-run Al-Ahram said the 30 June fact-finding committee met with detained Yara Sallam, and claimed that she confirmed that treatment inside prison was “very good.”
“No one goes to visit an exceptional detainee whose conditions are known to be better to get a general view of how conditions are like inside prison,” Sanaa said in a message conveyed by her sister.
According to the campaign Al-Horeya Lel Ged’an, there are currently over seventy female political detainees in Egypt. Most detainees are students from Al-Azhar University arrested during clashes on campus in 2013. Sanaa and her colleagues were arrested at the Itihadeya Palace and are chargedwith violating protest law.
The NCHR delegation included George Ishaq, Shahinda Muqalad, Ragia Umran, Kamal Abbas, Salah Sallam, and Nevine Mosaad.
Mosaad said the delegation did meet with Sara Khaled, a dentistry student charged with protesting and is sentenced two years in prison, as well as Yasmine AbdelMoneim and El-Seirfy.
On 23 June, 12 human rights and civil society organisations, including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, released a statement condemning the torture allegations coming out of Qanater prison.
The report said that “none of the cases were investigated,” and called for their immediate investigation.
The Ministry of Interior denied that cases of torture or abuse took place inside the prison.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has issued new amendments to raise military pensions 10% effective July 1, reported Al-Shorouq Thursday.
The new amendments allows retired officers to work an additional month after finishing their service to deliver their charges, and to receive a repayment over this additional month as it would not be included when the pension gets calculated.
Yom7 reported last June that the Cabinet had approved the pension’s amendments and sent it to the Ministry of Defense in order to be reviewed and approved by the president.
Economic experts, however, criticized the amendments for excluding civilians.
“No one minds if the state wants to raise a specific party’s pensions, but on the other hand, if there is any raising in prices is going to be applied soon, it should be assured that it would be applied to everyone, ” economic expert Hamed Morsi tod Al-Mesryoon last June.
By SARA OSAMA SHOUREAP
CAIRO: Ministry of Transportation will increase ticket prices of the air conditioned trains by 15 to 20 percent and double the tickets prices of the Metro, Youm7 reported Thursday.
Without prior notice and following on a promise to cut subsidies, the government raised Saturday the fuel prices by 78 percent.
The ministry also conducted a comprehensive study to raise the metro ticket prices from 1EGP to 2EGP and to set the ticket price according to the distance, said the source adding that no formal procedures to raise the tickets have been taken yet.
Sources from within the Ministry of Petroleum gave conflicting statements last June about the increase of fuel prices in the upcoming period, saying that it will increase and others say that it will not increase.
The new increase in fuel prices ranged from 0.40 EGP ($0.06) to 0.75 EGP per liter.
According to the new pricing structure, the price of 92 octane gasoline, which sold at 1.85 EGP a liter, was raised to 2.6 EGP and 80 octane gas from 0.9 EGP to 1.6 EGP per liter.
The price of diesel was raised from 1.1 EGP to 1.8 EGP per liter.