Antiquities chief quits amid strike pressure

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CAIRO: Egypt’s antiquities chief resigned on Tuesday after a series of strikes by employees, saying the institution that looks after the country’s treasures has been left paralyzed.

Mohamed Abdel Fatah, who took over from the flamboyant Zahi Hawass as head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said a wave of pickets in recent days had led to the closure of some of its buildings in Cairo.

Egypt has been hit by several waves of strikes since an uprising toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak in February. The strikes have regained momentum this month.

Workers have been demanding a raise in the minimum wage as well as improved working conditions.

“The load on me was unbearable,” Abdel Fatah told the official MENA news agency.
“I refuse to be regarded as a stooge. I felt powerless and overwhelmed especially that I had been deprived of much of my authority,” he said.

The head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities reports directly to the cabinet.

“Conditions have become chaotic and I am afraid to say that the SCA is now completely paralyzed,” he said.

The SCA states that its main mission is to “protect and promote the cultural heritage of Egypt.”

The military, which took power when Mubarak stepped down, recently decided to expand the application of the country’s emergency law. A law criminalizing strikes has also been activated.


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