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Centered on identity and viability … the transfer of mummies ignites the ongoing debate in Egypt


It seems that the political division in Egypt still casts a shadow over most of the issues that concern public opinion, especially those related to government decisions and projects, and which are witnessing an ongoing debate between supporters and opponents.

The latest manifestation of this division is the burning controversy so far about the ceremony of transferring pharaonic mummies from the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo to the Museum of Civilization, which took place Last Saturday evening, the transfer of 22 royal mummies and 17 royal coffins, in attendance President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and senior officials, and received extensive media coverage.

As usual, for several days after the ceremony, the social media debate flared up about the importance of the ceremony, its economic benefits and its huge costs, while others chose to revive the debate about Egypt’s identity between the Pharaonic and Islamic.

Identity controversy

The mummies of the kings and queens of Egypt did not soon settle in their new rest in the Museum of Civilization in the Fustat neighborhood, south of Cairo, moving from the Egyptian Museum located in Tahrir Square in the heart of the capital, until repeated ancient debates erupted about the identity of Egypt: Is it a Pharaonic or an Arab Islamic?

The most prominent manifestations of this controversy came after a tweet by the famous Azharite preacher on the communication sites Abdullah Rushdie, when he said that he was happy with the ancient Egyptian civilization, but that would not change the identity of the Arab Islamic Egypt.

Hatim al-Hawaini, the son of the famous Salafi preacher Abu Ishaq al-Hawaini, also indicated that the Noble Qur’an was condemned by Pharaoh, and he is also one of the famous preachers on communication sites.

Soon, critical reactions broke out to the attack on the party, as Rushdie’s tweeters demanded silence not to scratch the overjoyed state of happiness over the event of transporting mummies.

As for the controversial Islam Behairy, he used the controversy as usual to attack what he describes as the Islam of the caliphs and jurists, referring to Islam in its “first edition”. He wanted nothing more than heartfelt faith and not obliterating the identity and civilization of those who believe in him, according to the description of Buhairy, who had previously been imprisoned on charges. Contempt of religion.

In turn, the controversial writer Fatima Naout also went on to say that what happened during the ceremony of the parade of royal mummies, whether from the political leadership or the reactions of the people, is a very clear message saying that the state and the masses of people announce the true identity of Egypt, which we do not know other than. The ethnic identity that belongs to the most ancient civilizations of the earth, as she put it.

The controversy extended to what happened after the concert of the mummies to stop the show of the series “King Ahmose” due to the appearance of its hero with a beard.

Some considered that the beard of the hero Amr Youssef and some actors were an attempt to obliterate the identity of Pharaonic Egypt, while others considered it merely a historical mistake and a weakness in production and attention to details.

But the controversy over the series went beyond artistic work to renewed conflict and controversy over Egypt’s identity between the Pharaonic and Islamic.

Cost controversy

It is not known precisely the size of the huge costs of the ceremony, which prompted some to question the expected feasibility of the ceremony against the cost, which seemed exorbitant.

And from scattered statements by official officials, huge sums can be expected to be spent on the huge event. The head of the Misr Company for Sound and Light, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, said in press statements that the cost of lighting works is only, “especially Tahrir Square and the Pharaonic obelisk in the middle of the square and 21 buildings around the square, and the Egyptian Museum.” In Tahrir, “it amounted to 60 million pounds (about four million dollars).

As for the state-run Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper, according to private sources, it estimated the costs of the development work on Tahrir Square, which took 10 months, to be approximately 150 million pounds (less than 10 million dollars).

The government says this cost is related to the permanent development of Tahrir Square and not just the celebration day.

As for the costs of star participation, Mohamed Saadi, chairman of the company organizing the ceremony for the transfer of the royal mummies procession, confirmed that all the stars and artists did not ask for anything, because “everyone was a volunteer,” according to a press statement.

The head of the company organizing the ceremony said that taking him out in this way would have cost only 5% of the costs of taking it out, had it been undertaken by a foreign company.

Great use

As for the feasibility, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani confirmed in a television interview that “this huge event, which appeared with this wonderful appearance, is a strong propaganda for Egypt in support of tourism.”

In the same sense, the famous archaeologist Zahi Hawass emphasized, pointing out that the cost of the mummies and ceremonial procession does not mean anything in exchange for what Egypt will gain from his stay, which will be much greater than what was spent, according to television statements.

The director of the Cairo Center for Economic Studies, Abdel Moneim El-Sayed, believes that the event of transporting the mummies will stimulate the destination of tourists to visit Egypt, especially after the gradual return of the tourism sector on a regular basis, which is expected to take place next July.

And he continued – in press statements – that the event has economic effects on Egypt, including contributing to increasing the number of tourist nights for tourists inside Cairo to visit more than one tourist destination inside the capital, stressing that the transfer of mummies is a golden opportunity to promote archaeological, tourist and cultural destinations in Cairo and all of Egypt.

He expected an increase in cultural tourism revenues by 30% to 35%, adding that cultural tourism worldwide is within 9% of the total global tourism income, and Egypt has a peculiarity and comparative advantage in this sector because it possesses more than a third of the world’s monuments, and has many museums and palaces. “We have an open museum in the city of Luxor.”

Wrong timing

On the other hand, former parliamentarian Tariq Morsi said that the ceremony of transferring mummies and their timing is not the first indication and will not be the last for the absence of the will to search for what Egypt reaps and what achieves its interests, according to his description.

Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Morsi added that if tourism is the target behind an event of this size, then this time is not at all its time, while the whole world suffers from an epidemic that imposes a state of contraction, latency, and even complete paralysis and the suspension of tourism and aviation movement, as well as the deterioration of economic conditions due to Corona .

He expressed his belief that the celebration is a busy speech to the people, and a kind of raising the spirits and giving relief to the state of chaos and misery, lest people move or explode.

In turn, Mustafa Khoudary, head of the Egyptian Center for Media and Public Opinion Studies, “Takamul Misr”, said that suspending hope on such a ceremony to stimulate domestic tourism is a delusion, pointing out that the matter will not be more than a temporary “propaganda” that distracts the Egyptians from their crises for a short time and then dissolves.

AndSpeaking to Al Jazeera Net, Khoudary said that the government policy lacks adulthood, to achieve optimal benefit from the event internally and externally, which would have required postponing the implementation of the ceremony to a time when the severity of the Corona virus decreases, and thus the airports will open and tourists move to be able to attend the event in Egypt, and then the recovery of tourism.

He denied that the celebratory event had an effect on revitalizing domestic tourism, as most Egyptians no longer had what they spent on the provision of clearances and visits to museums and tourist areas, as government policies drained the pockets of many.