Museum of Islamic Art Cairo heavily affected by attack against Cairo Security Directorate

Cairo Friday, 24 January 2014

photo-mohamed ellaw-elwatan newspaper (2)

In another failed attempt to derail Egypt’s democratic transition, Egyptians were subjected as of the early morning hours of Friday, January 24th 2014 to a series of terrorist bombings. The first and biggest terrorist attack targeted Cairo Security Directorate where a car bomb was detonated in the vicinity of the Directorate killing 4 people and injuring 76 most of them civilians. The explosion also caused massive damage to the building of the Museum of Islamic Arts, one of Egypt’s most treasured cultural landmarks, as well as substantial damage to one of the buildings of the National Library and Archives and many of the manuscripts housed therein.

According to the statement of The Attorney General the explosion, which left behind a hole 27 Meter square with more than 2 meter deep in Port Said street, didn’t only chatter the façade and inner offices of the 8 stories building of the Security Directorate and many private buildings but also inflicted a great damage on the façade of the Museum of Islamic Arts across the street. It also destroyed the exhibition glass boxes, three historical Papyrus as well as seven unique manuscripts. The Minister of Culture declared that the building of the museum was seriously affected and it will have to be rebuilt.

I am confident that the family and followers of Museum With No Frontiers are aware of the importance of Cairo Museum of Islamic Arts and the unique nature of most of the artifacts exhibited therein. The Museum of which collections some pieces disappeared in late 2012, has always been proud of having unique and unequaled possessions such as: The key of Al Kaaba, made of copper adorned with gold and silver in the name of sultan Al Ashraf Shaaban, the oldest gold dinar found in the Islamic World, carrying the date of 77 Hijry, unique wooden artifacts and a rare collection of Koran.

On 28 December 1903 the Museum was inaugurated boosting a collection of 3145 items. Along the years the museum became the most important museum of Islamic Arts in the World with more than 100000 items acquired from all corners of the Islamic World. In 2010 after years of closure for restoration and renovation, the Museum was re-inaugurated when only 1700 pieces were found on display. In front of the public raw caused by the meager number of items compared to what was known to be in the possession of the Museum, it was declared that there will be constant change in the items to be exhibited. Now with the terrorist bombing the Museum is suffering another round of bad luck.

To conclude I wish to assure the family and followers of Museum With No Frontiers that terror acts will never deter Egypt’s resolve to continue its valuable contribution to the cultural march of Humanity. On behalf of the World we’ll continue our fight against terrorism with unwavering determination. We are confident that at the end we’ll prevail as Right, Justice and Beauty are all on our side.

Ambassador Fathy El Shazly, Cairo
Member of the MWNF Honorary Committee


Springtime returns to Arab lands

Springtime returns to Arab lands

Like countless others, for years I have dreamt of the day when liberty, justice and equal opportunity would reign in my country. And, like many others, I paid dearly for this universal dream. For years, for the young and not-so-young alike, daring to defy dictatorship meant arrest, torture, imprisonment, humiliation and exclusion. The oft-repeated dream had become an impossible aspiration, buried in the very depths of our being.

The years passed and the spectacle of our countries under the yoke of tyranny seemed set to last. We ended up believing that our people were cursed to choose between dictatorship on one hand and religious fundamentalism on the other. Because wanting democracy, when we were so “unsuitable” for such a system, meant by definition that we were doomed to submission. And yet the voices never fell silent, free men and women continued to defy prohibition and oppression, refusing to be bowed. Everyone resisted however they could.

The divine surprise came from deepest Tunisia, eternal Tunisia, where a young man offered up his life at the altar of freedom and dignity. Mohamed Bouazzizi, followed by dozens of other martyrs, lit the fuse that would inflame the entire country. What happened next is well known: the tyrant fled in the face of popular demand, and Tunisia was free, alive with youth and ready to rebuild.

And then Egypt, whose people had suffered under the same breed of dictator —despite its timeless history, also rose and claimed its dignity. For weeks, the entire world moved to the beat of Tahrir Square. The songs of Sheikh Imam, evoking a beautiful, eternal Egypt, were sung by millions of young and old alike. Mubarak faltered momentarily, and then let go, just like Ben Ali. The despots had been toppled by their people, the revolution was won. What marvellous news for humanity.

A sense of freedom, happiness and youthfulness reigns over both countries, and the entire world. Everything is possible, the curse has been lifted. Prohibition is banned, and dreaming permitted, because springtime has returned to Arab lands.

A member of the “Museum With No Frontiers” family.

Principles governing Muslim conduct

By Fathy El Shazly, Cairo (member of the Committee of Honour of MWNF)

 Principles that govern the conduct of relations between Muslims and the followers of both Christianity and Judaism as taught by the Holy Quran:

1)      Islam regards all people as one single nation descending from one single father and one single mother. In Surat Al-Hujurat, verse 13, The Holy Quran says:

 “O mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other. The most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you.”

2)      Muslims believe that all three monotheistic religions came from the same source, i.e. the same God. A true Muslim should equally believe in all prophets and holy books of both other religions. Those who do not are not Muslims even if they believe in Allah, His Angels, Prophet Mohammad, and the Day of Judgment. Therefore, Islam’s stance towards Christianity and Judaism transcends mere tolerance to accepting and believing in the respective prophets and scriptures of both religions. This belief is an integral part of the Islamic faith. In verse 84 of Surat Al-Imran, the Holy Quran says:

“We believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and in the books given to Moses, Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one and another among them and to Allah we do bow our will”

3)      The Original state of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims is peace. War is an exception that should not be resorted to except in extreme cases and only to repel aggression. Preaching should be made peacefully and with politeness. In Surat Al-Ankabut, verse 46, the Holy Quran says:

“… and dispute ye not with the people of the book except with means better than mere disputation, unless it be with  those of them who inflict wrong and injury, but say, we believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you, our God and your God is one, and it is to Him we bow.”

            And in Surat Al Nahl verse 125, the Holy Quran says:

Invite all to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.

4)      In the exceptional case of war, Muslims are ordered to immediately stop hostilities and resort to peace if the enemy stops fighting. In Surat Al Anfal, verse 61, the Holy Quran orders Muslims:

But if the enemy inclines towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace and trust in God.

5) Another rule of conduct regarding the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims is the obligation of Muslims to honor the pacts and accords concluded between them and others. Islam does not allow Muslims, under any circumstances, to breach their commitments. In Surat Al Nahl, verse 91, the Holy Quran says:

Fulfill the covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it and break not your oath after ye have confirmed them. Indeed ye have made Allah your surety, for Allah knows all that ye do.

The Quran prohibits breaking the commitment even if it were for the sake of Islamic solidarity. Verse 72 of Surat Al Anfal says:

But if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them except against a people with whom ye have a treaty, and Allah sees all that ye do”.