Intellectuals and artists reject Sawy as Culture Minister

A number of intellectuals and artists have expressed their opposition to the appointment of Mohamed Abdel Moneim al-Sawy, founder of the Sawy Culture Wheel, as Culture Minister in Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq's caretaker government.

People oppose al-Sawy's appointment, according to Mohamed Hashim, founder of Dar Merit Publishing, because the 25 January revolution was launched to achieve many objectives including freedom of conscience and expression–whereas Sawy is, “in reality, repressive and intolerant of opinions contrary to his own and rejects any criticism of himself. Moreover, he has never adopted a clear position regarding any issue in Egyptian affairs.”

Hashim cited the example of al-Sawy’s supervisory role in a photography exhibition, when he refused to display a picture of a young girl wearing a swimsuit.

“Sawy hails from a century different from the one we live in,” said Hisham. “The choice [of al-Sawy as Culture Minister] is reactionary to the revolution.”

Theater director and scriptwriter Mohamed Abdul Khaliq recalled al-Sawy telling director Effat Yehia to stop a show in the middle of its performance. “He imposed [censorship] on anything that violated his opinion or belief or imagination,” said Khaliq.

Artist Mohamed Abla said he rejected al-Sawy’s selection for two reasons: First, al-Sawy’s approval gives legitimacy to Shafiq’s government, which the revolution’s youth considers a vestige of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Second, al-Sawy’s selection is inappropriate because his success at managing the cultural center does not mean he is qualified to be minister, according to Abla.

Many intellectuals are demanding that the Culture Ministry be abolished because it is out of line with the nation’s culture in general, said Abla, who added that, if the ministry must be maintained, it should assume an administrative rather than an artistic function, since it is creative people, and not the minister, who contribute to culture.

Abla added that Shafiq’s cabinet continues to select ministers in the same way as Mubarak's regime, complaining that no intellectuals were consulted for their views about the ministry or the choice of minister.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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