Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Egyptian Museum held an exhibition of recovered stolen artifacts on Saturday organized by the country’s antiquities ministry, with Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim Ali calling on the international community to do more to tackle the stolen antiquities trade worldwide.
As he opened the exhibition, Ali thanked the countries that had helped recover the artifacts, which he said were part of an “international heritage,” adding that there was “a humane and a moral responsibility which everyone should bear” regarding them.
He said Egypt had been cooperating with a number of countries, as well as international auction houses and international policing organization Interpol, to track other stolen items.
The artifacts were returned from several countries including Belgium, the UK, Germany, Brazil and Spain.
A total of 200 items were on display at the exhibition, including a golden statue of Tutankhamun, one of 10 artifacts on display that were stolen from the Egyptian Museum itself during the January 25 revolution in 2011.
These artifacts, recovered from Germany, were stolen from the museum on January 28, 2011, regarded as the most violent and chaotic day of the 18-day uprising and known in Egypt as the “Friday of Rage.”
As police withdrew from the streets towards nightfall following heavy clashes with protesters earlier throughout that day, looters entered the museum amid the security vacuum, removing a total of 54 items on display, 29 of which remain missing.
Some of the objects at the exhibition were stolen even before the January 25 revolution. Three ancient Egyptian black granite statues of a woman and her sons stolen in 2009 were seized when they were spotted by Stuttgart customs officials as they were being transported into Germany.
The most recently stolen items consist of 48 objects taken from the Malawi National Museum in Minya province, southern Egypt, where looters entered the museum following deadly raids by Egyptian police and the army on two protest camps occupied by supporters of former president Mohamed Mursi last August, vandalizing and stealing artifacts as well as causing serious damage to the museum itself. Authorities blamed Mursi’s supporters, but no conclusive evidence linking them to the theft was found.
Egypt has recovered some 1,400 artifacts stolen since 2011.