July 21, 2011, 4:45 PM
By KATE TAYLOR
Egypt's antiquities department has been downgraded from a ministry to a cabinet-affiliated office, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited an Egyptian cabinet spokesman Thursday. The announcement came after a new Cabinet was sworn in that did not include an antiquities minister. Egypt's antiquities agency had been elevated to a ministry by the former president, Hosni Mubarak, in the last days of his rule; previously it had been under the Ministry of Culture. It still remained unclear, however, who the government intends to appoint to run the office. Last Sunday, officials said the prime minister, Essam Sharaf, planned to replace Zahi Hawass, the longtime antiquities chief, as part of a cabinet reshuffling aimed at appeasing protesters.
Since the revolution, Mr. Hawass has come under fire for his ties to the Mubaraks and his financial relationships with American organizations like National Geographic. Mr. Sharaf at first said that he would appoint Abdel Fattah el Banna, a professor at the University of Cairo, as the new minister of antiquities, but he reversed himself after the choice drew protests from archeologists. In the meantime, Mr. Hawass said that Mr. Sharaf had asked him to continue to go to work, according to the Art Newspaper.
Source: NY Times
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