News

Unverified Tweets: Egyptian Museum In the Middle of Turmoil [UPDATING…]

by Hrag Vartanian on February 2, 2011

The information is coming fast and furious via regarding the Egyptian Museum and the attack of protesters by pro-government authorities in Tahrir Square. So we are compiling a list of tweets to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening on the ground.

We also suggest you watch Al-Jazeera English live online for some reports and images.

Many of these tweets are from Tahrir Square, and others, like @SultanAlQassemi, are from elsewhere but from people monitoring the situation very closely. We have also added some Twitter commentary from others. We will annotate them when we can.

Here they are unverified and unedited, and (mostly) in chronological order:

http://twitter.com/TravellerW/status/32836323026927618″]

http://twitter.com/AJELive/status/32832193218744320″]

http://twitter.com/espresso_shot/status/32839024527806464

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[UPDATE] Most of what’s buzzing around the internet right now are rumors. While it’s true that the Egyptian Museum was hit with molotov cocktails (which were also thrown at protesters), it’s still not clear if the museum itself is on fire. CNN posted a video, via the link above, of water being sprayed at the museum, so it seems safe to assume that there’s no catastrophic damage yet. Also to be considered is the atmosphere of chaos that surrounds the threat of a full fire– could more looting follow today’s events?

Egyptians are also making jokes about the “artifacts” of the Egyptian Museum and the out-of-touch Mubarak regime:

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Huffington Post has this post summing up news coverage. Fox reported that the museum was on fire while Al Jazeera reports that soldiers are attempting to put it out. Good to see it published in an article, anyway.

From the Reuters report on HuffPo:

Petrol bombs were thrown in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday, a Reuters witness said. An Egyptologist said some had landed in the gardens of a museum housing the world’s greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures.

The Egyptian museum itself however was unscathed.

The Egyptologist, who had been in contact with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said it seemed the petrol bombs were being thrown by protesters demonstrating in favour of President Hosni Mubarak.

[UPDATE] There seems to be a resurgence of reports of fire in and around the museum. @evanchill is an Al Jazeera English online producer who reports that smoke is coming from the pro-Mubarak crowd. @3arabawy is a “socialist journalist” who is hearing from Nora Shalaby (@norashalaby), an archaeologist.

See Al Jazeera’s liveblog for publishing of @evanchill’s tweet.

* * *

Al Jazeera English just had an interview with Egypt’s Director of Heritage Sites [edited; title questionable, see below] Nouraddin Adbulsamad. His remarks have been taken up by the blogosphere. Here’s some Q+A transcribed from AJE:

AJE: Do you think the army could do more to protect egypt’s heritage?

Minister: I don’t think so, who is responsible for the protection? Nobody knows.

AJE: Are you concerned about what might happen tonight if there is no further intervention by army?

Minister: Yes I am worried. This heritage… this is international heritage, it belongs to the international community, not egypt only. Every day many thousands from all over the world visit this museum. It’s the history that’s important, not the money. How can they allow fire in the museum? We have no control, we have no government, we have no president, right now somebody wants Egypt to burn.

AJE: Are you happy with the stance taken by other countries with this crisis?

Minister: Why is the international community silent? That’s the question now. They must speak now.

* * *

Al Jazeera reports that there are fires burning within the museum. They also noted that there may be figures on top of the Egyptian Museum throwing molotov cocktails into the square. Pro-government protesters that have occupied the front of the Egyptian Museum are now being forced back by anti-Mubarak protesters:

Egypt Minister of Antiquities Director of Heritage Sites Nouraddin Adbulsamad’s [NA's title is debatable: AJE called him Minister of Antiquities on air, but a tweet featured on Huffington Post refers to him as Director of Heritage Sites] quote above is becoming an iconic statement of the controversy around the Egyptian Museum. It speaks to the fear that the current regime is willing to risk the entirety of Egypt’s history just for its own survival. That kind of iconoclasm is really frightening.

[UPDATE] The Egyptian Museum now seems to be the site of the last standoffs between pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak protesters, with molotov cocktails getting tossed and tracers going up. The soldiers are “passive”, according to the broadcast. How weird that the front of the museum is now the focus of the entire conflict. Once again, see Al Jazeera English live here.

[UPDATE] Al Jazeera English’s latest report updates on the status of the museum: Anti-government protesters occupy the museum’s front while the side corner is held by the pro-government protesters. Molotov cocktails and “petro-bombs” fly back and forth between the groups. A small fire caught on the side of the museum earlier, but it was quickly put out. There are no fires at the museum. Black smoke was seen earlier, but that was on the road.

The Egyptian military actually has a control point within the museum, a control room. Some journalists were taken there when they were arrested. Yet the soldiers present at the museum aren’t doing anything about the conflict between pro- and anti-government groups.

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  • Anonymous

    But….who is this Nouraddin Abdulsamad? He is not the Minister of Antiquities; that is Zahi Hawass’ title. Do we know who Abdulsamad actually is?

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      I believe he is Director of Heritage Sites

      • Anonymous

        Ah! Thank you so much. My friends and I were going crazy, trying to figure this out!

      • http://twitter.com/chaykak Kyle Chayka

        Edited this in the article as well.

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      Actually, I take that back, it’s not clear though why Al Jazeera is using that title for him. Perhaps he was the minister before Hawass? Hawass only became the minister yesterday.

      • Anonymous

        True. And Wikipedia (I know, I know! But…) says that “Minister of Antiquities” is a “newly-created post.”

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