Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Need for Reliable Information From Egypt

The Egyptian people are to be lauded for their desire for liberty, which has borne significant fruit thus far. George Washington noted that "[l]iberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth." We must always be mindful, nevertheless, of Alexis de Tocqueville's observation that "[i]n a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end."

The welfare of the Egyptian people are to be considered first while we continue to monitor cultural property issues. One issue that requires attention is obtaining reliable information. The lack of credible information regarding the theft or looting of cultural objects in Egypt requires resolution, especially since many cultural organizations have called on law enforcement to remain alert. Authorities at the US border cannot be expected to be on heightened alert when there is conflicting information about the extent of looting at archaeological sites or thefts from museums.

Egytians involved with cultural heritage, aided by journalists on the ground, should investigate the extent of damage to cultural heritage in Egypt. Only then can American authorities provide appropriate assistance.