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The Pyramids of Giza should not be destroyed or covered up!

October 25, 2012

The great pyramids of Giza are tremendous examples of human ingenuity and perseverance and their very existence is being debated in the Islamic world. To think that these priceless heritage sites, which are the closest to man-made mountains the ancient world has ever produced, could well be destroyed by Islamic fanatics is sadly unsurprising considering the trashing of a number of other temples, statues and heritage sites throughout the Islamic world in recent years and decades. Some of the more moderate extremists, if I can put it that way, have suggested covering these pyramids in wax to conceal their mystery and beauty. The image of that would be comical if it weren’t so tragically plausible under the circumstances.

I wrote this post because I think it important to protest any such move and in an effort to rally support for resistance to such destruction. Additionally, during vacation from teaching in London, I once visited the Pyramids of Giza around the first anniversary of 9/11and was amazed to find I was the only tourist around. I contemplated this as I sat on a camel and was led by a loquacious Egyptian who was happy to tell me about the Sphinx and those magnificent pyramids. It occurred to me that if I had shared the space with, say a bus load of Israeli Egyptologists, then the outcome could have been very much different.

I survived that experience and the memory shall stay with me forever, yet how long will scholars and tourists alike have to walk the lands of the Pharaohs and witness first hand these miracles in stone produced at great cost in blood and treasure? Unfortunately radical Islam does not believe in culture as such or certainly gives little or no respect to cultures outside Islam. It is said that the great Library of Alexandria was put to the torch and the Sphinx de-nosed by raiding Arabic Muslims in the 7th century. The Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt has been urged to take on this agenda of destruction of such ‘relics of antiquity’.

The feeling about is that modern technology could achieve what the Muslim prophet’s companion Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen who invaded and conquered Egypt around 641 could not, through a quick demolition of these massive pyramids. It would be a case of Islamic cultural vandalism on a scale not seen before.

Even the legendary and highly influential Egyptian Egyptologist,  Dr Hawass, may not be able to stop such horrific vandalism. Hopefully the fanatics on the ground  in Egypt and the rest of the Islamic world can be persuaded that an increasingly impoverished Egypt can ill afford to have such iconic national treasures wiped out with the press of a button. Many voices will be needed to thwart such a defiant and diabolical act of destruction. Make no mistake, this action is political rather than religious, and the very notion of destroying the Pyramids and more is an example of intimidation and muscle flexing in the Land of the Pharaohs as well as on a global scale.

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