By Mariam Iskander
“Corruption exists in every institution in the country, but that is not the way to fight it,” said protesting artist Olfat Emam, referring to recent decisions and dismissals made by Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel Aziz.
“There are specialised authorities that are capable of investigating corruption, instead of randomly dismissing officials and appointing new ones.”
Artists and intellectuals demanding the resignation of Abdel Aziz entered their fifth day of a sit-in inside the Ministry of Culture on Sunday.
The artists are protesting the minister’s recent dismissals for what they say is the restructuring of the Ministry of Culture according to his own vision, under the guise of purging corruption.
The protesters’ anger escalated with the appointment of Khaled Fahmy, a professor of Linguistics at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Menufiya, as the president of the National Library and Archives. Fahmy is a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs with known Islamist tendencies, according to state-run news agency MENA.
“The archives are national property of every Egyptian and should not be controlled by the Islamists,” said Dr Nabil Bahgat, a theatre professor at the University of Helwan, who is participating in the sit-in.
The protesters in front of the ministry emphasised that they will not leave unless Abdel Aziz resigns and their demands are met.
Daily News Egypt attempted to reach the newly-appointed staff of the Ministry of Culture, but they were not available for comment.
The sit-in on Sunday was joined by many popular figures including Egyptian Writer Baha’ Taher, political activist Ahmed Harara and movie producer Medhat El-Adl. The sit-in began last Wednesday when demonstrating artists broke into the Ministry of Culture.
These protests which started on 29 May against Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel Aziz, were provoked by the removal of Ines Abdel Dayem, the former head of the Cairo Opera House, and Salah El-Meligy, the former head of the Applied Arts Department at the ministry. Artists have expressed their worry of the increasing influence of the Brotherhood in the cultural sector.