Novelist Bahaa Taher Resigns from State Council of Culture in Protest

Despite rumors to the contrary, Alaa Abdel-Aziz is still Egypt’s culture minister — I believe this is Day 25 — but already a number of top culture workers have either resigned or been fired since the former film professor and Morsi supporter took the helm of official state culture:

hghgdAs Ahram Online and Dostor Asly reported, prominent novelist Bahaa Taher resigned in protest of recent culture-industry firings, particularly that of Ines Abdel-Dayem. Abdel-Dayem was dismissed from her position as head of the Cairo Opera House; musicians and staff held an on-stage protest Tuesday instead of performing Aida.

Badr El-Zakaziki was appointed in her place.

About the on-stage protest, Nayer Nagui, the principle conductor and artistic director of the Cairo Opera Orchestra, told AO:

This is the first time an opera performance has been cancelled but it’s also the first time culture and arts are subjected to such a fierce attack, represented in the sackings of the senior officials of the ministry of culture, ending up with firing the head of the Cairo Opera House, Ines Abdel-Dayem. This is why our reaction had to be violent.

Cancelling a performance that includes work of over 300 artists isn’t easy, but we took the decision unanimously aiming at sending a message that arts and culture aren’t only a single red line but a multitude of red lines and that culture is the glue that keeps this society together. If culture collapses, the whole society collapses.

See the strike declared:

Following the protests, Abdel-Aziz told Ahram Online that he was not resigning: “People have the right to demonstrate; they have a vision, and I have mine.”

He also, according to ONA, said that his decisions were in the spirit of the Jan. 25 revolution.

Bahaa Taher, whose celebrated Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery has been widely read and translated, did however resign. He had also earlier signed a petition demanding the regime cut Abdel-Aziz loose.

According to AO, Taher said:

Over the past days, the minister has dismissed many valuable, highly educated and accomplished artists and intellectuals from leading positions in Egypt’s culture scene.

My resignation is to protest those decisions, which do not have any valid grounds and which testify to the minister’s clear strategy of destroying the arts and culture of the country.

Abdel-Dayem’s firing came after Salah El-Meligy’s, head of the Fine Arts Sector, and Ahmed Mujahid’s, head of the General Egyptian Book Organization.

Secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Culture, Saeed Tawfiq, resigned from his job on Wednesday.

Follow:

The protest movement at @AhramOnlineArts

More:

How Long Can Egypt’s Latest Culture Minister Stay on the Job?

Egyptian arts scene facing ‘serious attack’: Opera conductor

‘No to Brotherhoodization’: Cairo Opera House workers strike to protest Islamist interference

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