Hosni, Hawass challenge antiquities bill

At a parliamentary session Tuesday, Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), urged opposition and independent MPs to vote down a bill permitting the buying and selling of antiquities inside Egypt.

Both men warned of the dangers of unlicensed excavations if the bill is passed, recommending that the law be applied to fixed antiquities only–such as ancient buildings or walls–rather than transportable ones.

Hawass went on to refer to Article 8 of the existing antiquities law, which stipulates that all archaeological discoveries be reported to the SCA within a two-year period. He went on to request that this period be reduced to six months only.

Ahmed Ezz, ruling party stalwart and head of parliament’s budget and planning committee, had earlier submitted a translated copy of Italy’s antiquities law to Parliamentary Speaker Fathi Sorour, suggesting that the same regulations be applied in Egypt.

Sorour, for his part, overruled a proposal to form a committee mandated with defining the term "antiquity."

"The definition of antiquity has been known since 1912. It includes everything found in Egypt that is linked to the country’s history," he said, noting that the draft law would likely be passed next week.

Hawass and Hosni both threatened to resign if the bill was passed into law.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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