Antiquities Minister Mahmoud al-Damaty accused media outlets of disseminating baseless allegations about a possible collapse of Egypt’s oldest pyramid in Saqqara as UNESCO-backed fears grow.
During a news conference on Tuesday near the pyramid, Damaty accused media outlets of obliviously being led by rumors about a possible collapse due to improper renovation.
Reporters were enraged when the minister ended his statement without receiving questions from them. They also complained that the minister allowed them to enter the pyramid only from the southern gate instead of the northern gate where the renovations are taking place.
Antiquities activists have questioned the eligibility and experience of the company carrying out the restorations at Djoser's Step Pyramid. During the conference, the minister declined to give details of the contract signed with the company.
Some of those in attendance called upon the minister to obtain a report from the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) to end the controversy concerning restorations.
A report by UNESCO had warned that the pyramid was facing the danger of collapse due to the renovations.
Nour Eddin Abdel Samad, head of the ministry’s documentation department, said he hoped the minister would have been frank at the conference concerning the dangers facing the pyramid.
Abdel Samad told Dream2 satellite channel late Tuesday that “crimes are being committed to that pyramid both inside and outside”. He said current renovations caused the exterior appearance of the pyramid to change, which, he explained, is a violation of UNESCO treaties.
Abdel Samad accused the minister of deliberately keeping mum on UNESCO report, calling upon authorities to halt renovations by the inexperienced company which the minister insists to keep.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm