Egypt/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.2.1 Conceptual issues of policies for the arts

Egypt is virtually void of cultural trends that may create real cultural battles that may in turn lead to social development or the establishment of new thought schools in the fields of research, creative writing, cinema, theatre or music. Thus any accidental event may become a subject of debate in the cultural community as a result of the existing vacuum, such as the nomination of former Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni to run for UNESCO director general office, which created a heated debate in the country's written press and broadcast media about MOC cultural policies and the current condition of Egypt's firmly established cultural institutions and the number of disasters inflicted on antiquities and theatres since he assumed office more than 20 years ago.

Dr. Aswani also indicated that Farouk Hosni have succeeded (as he himself once said) in making many intellectuals, particularly young ones, part of the regime by linking them with MOC through temporary contracts, assignment allowances and sham projects and committees, whose members are generously paid to guarantee their loyalty, and even appointed as advisors with huge salaries.

Finally, the arabization of Nubians[1]; Mr. Farouk Hosni put the implementation of the program he adopted to run for UNESCO director general office at the current MOC agenda (see chapter 3).

As for the opinions, trends and subjects in the Egyptian cultural community at the moment, we can say, with clear conscious, that they are reduced to a struggle for state remunerations, assignment allowances and official positions.

However, there is a minority representing certain political and intellectual trends which considers the country's cultural situation a real dilemma that should be included in the reform agenda. This minority unfortunately consist of small number of persons who are detached from the general public who suffer from illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.

Among these groups interested in cultural policies, we find the National Group of Cultural Policies, which has sought since its inception to submit a proposal for cultural policy and a number of seminars, workshops and media campaigns. In light of this, the Group had held several meetings and workshops with the committees for culture, media and tourism within the 2012 parliament, which was dissolved by the constitutional court’s order in June 2012. Subsequently the meetings have stopped, while workshops with government leaders and independent cultural activists are still operating on more than one level up until today. It’s important to mention that these committees approved the “Summary of proposed cultural policy” presented by the group just minutes before it was dissolved.

On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood is the strongest of these trends and the force with the largest number of followers and this trend expresses the ideas and aspirations of the broad middle class. However, the cultural demands of the Muslim Brotherhood and their evaluation of the country's cultural policies are only related to censorship on cultural and artistic works from the permissible/forbidden perspective and the safeguarding of public manners.

[1]              Seventh Day Newspaper – 10 Sep., 2009 -

Chapter published: 01-04-2016