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Egyptian artists perform outdoor, call for sacking new culture minister


08:46, June 13, 2013

CAIRO, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian intellectuals and artists have been sitting-in at the Culture Ministry, urging the removal of recently-appointed Culture Minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz, whom they allege is trying to implement a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) " domination plan" over the ministry.

The demonstrators' anger was ignited by a spate of sackings within the Culture Ministry run by Abdel-Aziz, including head of Cairo Opera House, Enas Abdel-Dayem; head of the Egyptian General Book Authority, Ahmed Mujahed; and head of the Fine Arts Sector, Salah El-Meligy.

Although the minister said the dismissals were meant to "root out" corruption from the ministry, the protesters believed that such sackings were made to change the identity of the ministry by bringing in new figures loyal to the current ruling Islamist- oriented administration.

"So sorrowfully, the current regime has a plan to 'efface' the identity of the Egyptian culture and to replace it with the MB ideology," filmmaker Khaled Yousuf, who is also spokesman of the protesters, told Xinhua.

Echoing Yousuf's idea, story-writer Gamal al-Ghitany saw that the"intention of dominating the Culture Ministry was revealed since the moment of appointing Abdel-Aziz himself as the culture minister."

"Abdel-Aziz doesn't have any deep shares in the Egyptian culture and was appointed as a minister only for being a columnist for the MB's Freedom and Justice Party's newspaper," said al- Ghitany.

In front of the Culture Ministry premises in Zamalek district of Cairo, protesters on Wednesday were performing different kinds of art during the sit-in such as singing, poetry reading and ballet dancing, amid applause and anti-MB yells.

"Egyptian identify is immortal ... Attempts to 'Brotherhoodize' Egyptian culture will be foiled," read a sign of the protesters.

"We will continue our sit-in until June 30, when we will join the mass demonstrations arranged to be at the Etahdeya presidential palace (against Islamist-oriented President Mohamed Morsi)," Yousuf said.

In their ballet shoes, ballet dancers performed Zobras in front of the ministry building as a challenge hint for Islaimist Shura Council (upper house) member Gamal Hamed, Salafists' Nour Party member, who had described the art of ballet dancing as an "art of nudity" and "indecency" during a council session on May 28.

"If the current leadership is intended to ban ballet, we are going to dance in the street," shouted the ballet-dancing protesters.

Novelist Bahaa Taher, winner of the 2008 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, who was also among the protesters, said the intellectuals would continue their sit-in until Abdel-Aziz's removal.

Taher has resigned from the state-run Supreme Council for Culture, protesting the recent sackings.

Meanwhile, poet and critic Shaban Yousuf said that purifying and rooting out corruption in the Culture Ministry was an urgent demand of the Egyptian culture arena, but it happened from "a MB's point of view."

"Rooting out corruption for them means getting away the diversity of our culture and replacing it with a specific religious identity," Yousuf said.

While the intellectuals and artists urge the dismissal of Abdel- Aziz, Islamists support him as well as the new policies of the ministry. Clashes between the two sides have left at least five people injured on Tuesday.

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