What Is the Brotherhood Vision for Culture?

As new culture minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz continues his firings, Muslim Brotherhood spokespersons — while denying that Abdel-Aziz is part of the MB — have been leaping to his defense: 

39618214241Statements about the disintegrating state of culture in the Mubarak years certainly ring true enough. That corruption might be involved does not beggar belief — although, as Ahram Online reports, “No lawsuits for corruption at the [culture] ministry are known to have been filed since [Abdel-Aziz] took office.” Several MB spokespeople have also made statements against “elites” — always a good strategy.

So, thus far, we have a vision wherein culture = a practice of non-corrupt non-elites. Fair enough.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem the MB plans any change to the structure of State Culture mechanisms, but instead simply shift to “new faces.” And, while MB statements have tepidly supported the arts, it’s a very careful sort of support. Dr. Mahmoud Ghozlan, in defending Abdel-Aziz to The Guardian newspaper:

“We are not against creativity and art that elevate and enhance ideas, morals and people, and uphold the values ​​of society.”

Also, in the same statement:

Dr. Ghozlan wondered, “Does it make sense that cultured, civilized or enlightened artists, whose tools are art and creativity, storm the Ministry of Culture where an honorable minister is endeavoring to put an end to wasting public funds? Does it make sense for such ‘intellectuals’ to claim they uphold the state’s status and the culture of Egypt as they storm the Ministry?”

I like Ghozlan’s vision of what artists do, although perhaps it’s not all tea-sipping in drawing rooms while discussing High Culture in hushed tones.

Meanwhile, the crowd watching Ahmed Nabil on Oud singing Sheikh Imam while awaiting the ballet street performance last night seemed to have had a good time. And indeed:

‏@AhramOnlineArtsSheer euphoria now on the streets outside ministry of culture as the crowd joins with dancers on the makeshift dance floor on the tarmac!
And, on Facebook, a street-ballet video.


  1. More ‘fabricated fables and dreadful rumors’. Evidently, you are oblivious to the ongoing ‘Dialogue with Everyone’ for the sake of ‘Egypt Rejuvenation’, nor have you listened to the ‘Important Messages on Future of Art, Innovation’. Alas, please be informed that having failed ‘to effectively touch Egyptians with creativity’ and ‘provide a distinct cultural service … for many years’,* you are to watch helplessly as we ‘breathe a new spirit into the body of culture’. Indeed, it is in your best interest to ‘review [your] position** and leave the future to young people’, to which effect they ‘will tell everyone that Egypt has a unique and enlightened culture’ and ‘realize the tremendous creative talents and great intellectuals their homeland boasts.’

    *’What have [you] ever given to the enlightened Egyptian people?’
    ** ‘away from the higher interests of Egyptian culture’

    1. But I love fabricating fables! It’s one of the best parts of culture.

      1. Very ‘narrow interests’ then. On a serious note, I wish they elaborated more on this ‘identity and discourse of Egyptian culture’ which they’re so protective of.

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