By: Nourhan Dakroury
The art community in Egypt issued a statement on Monday announcing a protest to take place on Thursday at the Cairo Opera House.
This statement came after Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel Aziz removed Salah El-Meleegy from his post as head of the Department of Applied Arts.
“Not only members of the community of applied arts will participate, but also intellectuals and members of the art and cultural scene in general,” said Maha Effat, spokesperson of the Revolution Artists Coalition, adding that more people would join the protest after hearing about the removal of Cairo Opera head Enas Abdel Dayem.
El-Meleegy was replaced by Nahed Rostom, former head of the Art Production Centre, and Abdel Dayem was replaced by Artistic Director of the Cairo Opera House Reda El Wakil.
Amany Roshdy, an Egyptian artist, said that El-Meleegy’s removal came after he refused the removal of certain art pieces from the Applied Arts General Exhibition, which took place last Sunday, upon the request of the culture minister.
As a result, the minister asked to postpone the exhibition, which the artists did not agree to do.
According to artist and critic Mohamed Kamal, the artists of the exhibition then issued a statement banning Abdel Aziz from attending the exhibition and any other cultural event.
“On Monday, we launched an initiative to form an organisation called ‘Artists for the people’ to act as a substitute for the Ministry of Culture,” said Kamal.
“Culture in Egypt has to lie in the hands of the people,” he added, explaining that he views the current situation as an attempt to spread Muslim Brotherhood ideologies in the cultural domain.
Kamal said that the protest will take place on Thursday at 5pm at the Cairo Opera House and will then move to the Ministry of Culture demanding the removal of the current minister.