Antiquities bill approved without amendments

Parliament approved a new antiquities law Monday, rejecting several controversial amendments to the bill proposed by Ahmed Ezz, organizational secretary of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Last month, Ezz had recommended altering the legislation to legalize trade in antiquities inside Egypt, triggering a storm of protest in parliament.

The new law, formulated by Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, obliges the owners of archaeological artifacts to report them to the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) within 60 days.

"Ezz wanted to draw on the laws of Greece, France and Italy as examples," said Hosni. "But he was subsequently convinced that these laws were not suitable for Egypt."

SCA Secretary-General Zahi Hawass, who had been a vocal opponent of the proposed amendments, was criticized in the session by some NDP representatives for having called Ezz "ignorant" in earlier press statements. Hawass, however, denied having made the remarks.

Nevertheless, NDP representative Omar Haridi continued to lash out at Hawass, who he described as "insolent." Haridi reportedly tried to assault Hawass as the latter was leaving the chamber.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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