Egypt/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.3 Cultural policy objectives

In some research papers presented by the MOC (or its Minister), we find clear indication or clarification of the goals behind the Ministry's current cultural policy:

"The strategy of cultural action in Egypt focuses on comprehensive development as the most important goal, given that cultural development constitutes an element in overall human development”.

".....Preservation of cultural heritage (concrete and abstract), and freeing the innovators' capacities, artistically and academically, in all fields of art, literature, and the sciences, through making knowledge accessible to all people”.

"Correcting certain misconceptions (such as secularism)"..

Given the above, it is evident that Egyptian cultural development programmes target all social classes i.e. the Egyptian people as a whole. The state does not differentiate men from women, rich from poor, or literate from illiterate. Despite certain specialized programmes (combating illiteracy, for example, and some rural programmes that target women exclusively), the overall goal is clearly "making knowledge accessible to all people".

It is obvious, especially in TV programmes (the foremost public cultural tool), that the material provided does not reflect the wide spectrum of viewers. TV programmes do not present the middle class or rural farmers truthfully, but only as transformed versions of themselves, if at all. There are also TV debates over controversial fatwas, based on popular demand.

As for "why", it is actually intended to reinforce the safer deep-rooted values (“preserving cultural heritage”), or so they imagine. They believe traditional values do not harbour intellectual mines that call for modernization. The research papers call for "organising and directing cultural activities in agreement with social values and choices". It is well-known that the values of the Egyptian people have become quite Salafist. Today’s newspapers publish popular articles that suit the world-view of the average Egyptian, whether they are cultural ("Imported Chinese Hymens" in Al-Dustoor), scientific ("Renewed Religious Controversy over Darwin” in Akhbar Al-Adab), or medical ("Increased Spread for Swine Flu"). The last article considers swine flu God-sent calamity to be studied under the Islamic “Jurisprudence of Calamities”. This is the current situation, which is a result of the acquiescence of public cultural policy to the choices of society and "national consensus and expectations”.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that there is a huge gap between what the MOC announces and what actually takes place, despite some nominal MOC achievements that do not affect people's conscience and culture in the way we are concerned with.

We must also, in this context mention the civil society attempts to develop cultural policies including the initiative of “National Group for cultural policies” through a proposed cultural policy, seminars, workshops and media campaign.

In relation to launching the campaign (November 2014), the Group produced a film entitled “Cultural Policy for All Egyptians”. The film was directed by Marwa Zein and was broadcast on the OnTv channel. In addition the film will also be posted on social media, internet sites and the film’s website. Work on six television advertisements on the right to culture and arts was also completed; special advertisements relating to the artistic and cultural rights were also displayed on 15 public transport buses as well as on the streets of Cairo and the provinces. Nine new members joined the National Group for Cultural Policy including:

  • Ahmad Abu Khanjir from Aswan
  • Bader Al Abeidi from Port Said
  •  Abdallah Deif from Alexandria
  • Fatha Abd El-Samii from Qena
  • Madhat Mounir from Ismailia
  • Amal Awida from Cairo
  • Emad Abu Garin from Asyut
  • Mehdi Mohammed Mehdi from Qalyubia (Shibin Al Qanater), and
  • Mohammed Aziz from Gharbia (Kafr El Zayat) 

Chapter published: 01-04-2016