As many of you know, I'm pretty convinced that violence is seldom the answer to any problem, even though it seems to inevitable in troubled times. Thus it comes as no surprise to me that the political unrest in Egypt (after the government shut down all manner of social media) has escalated to mob violence of the kind that can precede either true reform or a descent into absolute chaos. We'll have to wait and see what happens here.
Despite all the turmoil, however, Egyptians worried about the possibility that mobs bent on destruction would target the Egyptian Museum, formed a human shield around the building as announced in The Daily Good. From Ireland, The Journal.ie reports that the army and students cordoned off the museum after marauders had already destroyed two mummies.
The Egyptian Museum is, of course, the home of the (in)famous funerary mask of Tutankhamen, along with innumerable other treasures. The official home page is inaccessible because of the internet block, but an alternative is available here--with several pages of photos.
It's good to know that a country as old as Egypt hasn't forgotten the value of its past, even as it struggles to determine the shape of its future. Lets hope that the sane prevail over the insane as Egyptians locate a path toward more reasonable governance--and more reasoned protest.
Update 2 February: Whilst we're snug in our homes and flats waiting for the ice to clear so we can get back to school, Egyptian students are now busy protecting their libraries, as reported in today's Daily Good. The importance of institutions like museums and libraries is sometimes lost in the heat of battle for basic rights, but the priorities of the protesting students seem spot on, if they want to ensure the success of whatever future government they manage to construct.
Intellectual history (and thinking in general) is frequently sacrificed at the altar of political expedience by well-meaning but oddly motivated politicians--like some of those sitting on the Texas State Board of Education (see my related posts on The Owl of Athena). But when those fomenting revolutions against repressive governments make significant efforts to preserve their cultural heritage, it speaks well of the possibility of real reform. We won't know the outcome for weeks, months, or even years. But at least these folks are showing that the mobs aren't just out there to rain destruction on Egyptian culture.
Image credit: Façade of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, taken by Fajor in 2002, via Wikimedia Commons.