It’s been an eventful couple of days at the Egyptian Ministry of Culture:
Officially, Alaa Abdel-Aziz, current minister of culture, announced the Supreme Council for Culture would be meeting to discuss state culture awards. But there were far more interesting things afoot.
The Watan party VP Mohamed Nour called on all Islamists to join hands and disperse the culture ministry sit-in, calling the sitters “supporters of the former regime’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosni.” Others, including the MB’s Ahmed al-Mogheer, also echoed the call.
And indeed, hundreds of anti-protest protesters came down to the Egyptian Ministry of Culture on Tuesday. There were several accounts of the scuffles (on Zeinobia’s blog, @cliffcheney‘s timeline, Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, Reuters, more.)
After it was all over, Minister Abdel-Aziz visited with some of the counter-protesters who’d been bruised up and had his photo taken with them.
Apparently, Abdel-Aziz wasn’t the only one doing some kissing, however. Al-Hafez — presumably to rile opinion against the sit-in — aired some scandalous footage of a man and a woman greeting one another.
Meanwhile, Abdel-Aziz appointed a new archives head, who said they would be tightening up access to the already restricted national archives. Abdel-Aziz also said on Twitter that they planned to go through the archives, which he said — rightly — are in bad shape. However, he did not explain his plan for putting them in better shape, outside of further restricting access and keeping them out of the hands of foreign interests.
The bigger questions continue to be about the future of an overweening “Ministry of Culture” and whether it can be broken apart into several more independent institutions that support, rather than trying to control, cultural expression.