When I arrived in Chicago with a delegation from the Tourism Ministry, I was greeted by the Egyptian consul, Mohamed Abul Dahab, who is anxious to introduce the ancient Egyptian civilization to the United States. He always encourages Americans to visit Egypt, for he knows that the charm of the ancient Egyptian civilization and its artifacts can very well revive American tourism to Egypt.
I remember last time when I was in this important industrial city for the opening of the exhibition of Tutankhamun, the Golden Pharaoh. I met John Rowe, the chairman of the Exelon Corporation, at the time, that was sponsoring the exhibition. He could not attend the opening because President George W. Bush happened to be visiting the city at the same time. So he sent his assistant instead.
At the press conference, the assistant said that Rowe admires the ancient Egyptian civilization to the extent that he keeps an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus in his office.
When I heard this, I said that I am against people keeping ancient Egyptian artifacts in their homes or offices, and demanded that Rowe send the sarcophagus to the Field Museum of Chicago to display it with the collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. I also said that I would write-off the name of his company from the publicity as an official sponsor of the exhibition.
Rowe refused to do so, which The Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying. But then he agreed, which the paper published on the front page, putting it as the Egyptian Pharaoh who has defeated the American Pharaoh.
Chicago has museums that display ancient Egyptian artifacts. It also has universities that teach Egyptology and the ancient Egyptian language.
Our tourism attache held a celebration to which she invited the press, travel agencies and politicians, and during which I delivered a lecture about Tutankhamun. They talked about the destruction of ancient monuments in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS, which many would definitely be willing to pay millions for and take them to add to their private collections.
I called for protecting the human heritage, but UNESCO is a lame organization that only condemns such actions. All countries of the world should sign a document that criminalizes the sale and transfer of cultural antiquities, and stipulates that they should be returned to their original places.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm