Egypt’s ancient heritage is the country’s greatest asset; without it, few tourists would want to visit there. It was a proud moment last year when Egyptian crowds banded together to keep most of the looters out of the Cairo Museum. Now click on the link above, to read what their newly elected government thinks of all this!
This doesn’t surprise me anymore; you may remember the terrorist attack that killed sixty tourists, at Queen Hatshepsut’s temple in 1997. A few years ago, in my essay Satan’s Chosen People?, I wrote that a dysfunctional culture does not respect the past. Quote:
To go with the lack of interest in the future, throw in a lack of respect for the past, including your own. Dictators often see a threat from history, and will rewrite it to suit their purposes. In place of the truth they may offer a paradise for workers/peasants/barbarians that never really existed. Nazi Germany, for example, taught that before Christianity came along, early Germans lived in the simple society of Wagnerian operas and Nordic sagas, where courage was more important than thinking, and one usually dealt with his enemies by killing them. Likewise, in the Middle East those countries which are rich in artifacts from pre-Islamic eras (e.g., Turkey, Egypt, Iraq and Iran) have long had a problem with looting. In Israel we have seen Palestinian construction crews scrape the Temple Mount down to bedrock, in an effort to get rid of evidence of Jewish or Christian activity in Old Jerusalem, and the Taliban destroyed the Bamian Buddhas to erase the fact that Afghanistan had been a Buddhist country for 900 years (200 B.C.-700 A.D.). I guess it was expected that today’s Islamists would not show respect to Jewish, Christian and Buddhist holy places, but I was surprised to find out that even Islamic holy and historical sites aren’t safe from them. After all, they glorify the time of Mohammed and the first four Caliphs, so you would expect them to careful with anything left over from those days. Instead, there are the cases I mentioned in other papers about how the Wahhabis destroyed the tomb of Mohammed when they first captured Medina in 1806, and when the Palestinians gained control over the tomb of Joseph in 2000, their hatred of anything Jewish caused them to desecrate that, too. Never mind that Joseph is a hero to Moslems, with a whole chapter in the Koran devoted to him (Sura 12). More recently we have seen “insurgents” blow up mosques in Iraq, while in Mecca modern construction has bulldozed over the house where Mohammed was born, the house of his first wife, Khadija, and the first Islamic school. The Wahhabi view is that such places can–and have–become places of idolatry, like the icons and shrines to saints in medieval Europe. So far they have exempted the Kaaba and the Black Stone, because they are so important to pilgrims, but let’s see how long that will last. If you’re like me, and want the world to have a record of what really happened, you have to wonder what those obsessed with eradicating the past are trying to hide.
Unquote: If Giza is a target of the Islamists, are any of Egypt’s other monuments safe? What about Saqqara, Abu Simbel, or all the attractions around Luxor, like Karnak and the Valley of the Kings?