Looting

The two guards

You have seen the images showing the ways that the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria destroys museum objects that it cannot sell. This is an idea that the fundamentalists acquired in Egypt, where vandals plundered the museums of Malawi, Al-Arish, and other places, and where they destroyed whatever they couldn’t sell. Those were not the only instances of looting in Egypt: during the Arab Spring many dig sites were relieved of the artefacts that they contained.

Fortunately, there are guards. Men who are willing to lay down their lives to protect Egypt’s antiquities. Men like Mustafa Ali and Ghafir Asrawy of the project at Dayr al-Barsha, across from Malawi.

Last weekend these two men were killed in a firefight with a gang of robbers, who wished to take possession of ancient objects. Asrawy was killed on the spot on Saturday. Ali succumbed of his wounds a short time later.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has paid the relatives of Ghafir Asrawy and Mustafa Ali a modest benefit payment. Unfortunately, that money isn’t enough. The Belgian excavators have therefore started a GoFundMe campaign. You can read more about it on the GoFundMe website and I recommend that you support the campaign.  

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