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Cairo bids joyous farewell to giant Ramses statue - Daily News Egypt

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Cairo bids joyous farewell to giant Ramses statue

Agence France-Presse CAIRO: Hundreds of thousands of people lined Cairo s streets Friday to bid farewell to one of the metropolis s landmarks as the colossal statue of Ramses II completed its journey from the polluted city to a spot near the Pyramids. Ramses should be happy. He would have cursed us from his tomb …


Agence France-Presse CAIRO: Hundreds of thousands of people lined Cairo s streets Friday to bid farewell to one of the metropolis s landmarks as the colossal statue of Ramses II completed its journey from the polluted city to a spot near the Pyramids. Ramses should be happy. He would have cursed us from his tomb if we hadn t got his statue out of this unimaginable chaos of pollution and ugliness, Egypt antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told AFP after the statue completed its odyssey. After years of controversy and logistical headaches, the high-risk operation to move the 100 ton, 11 meter high pink granite statue in one piece finally got underway at its scheduled time of 1:00 a.m. The statue, mounted on a huge mobile base and towed by a massive truck, took 10 hours to complete its 35 km journey. Hawass hailed the task s completion, done at a cost of around one million euros ($1.3 million). Today, we Egyptians have managed ourselves to transport the statue while in the past foreigners looked after our antiquities. Cairo residents of all ages and backgrounds took to the streets in the middle of the night to follow the statue of the greatest warrior king in ancient Egypt as it moved slowly through the city center in its sarcophagus of scaffolding and protective plastic. Cries of Ramses, Ramses, accompanied by clapping, whistling and women s ululations greeted the statue at each stage of its final journey, inching along the route at 5 km an hour. We re going to miss you, shouted 12-year-old Issam Abu Zaid, as the floodlit convoy cranked into motion, starting Ramses journey from the square outside Cairo s main train station to the Giza plateau. The heart of one of the world s most populous cities turned into a huge carnival, as people put out flags on their balconies and climbed on lamp posts, buses, mosques and everything they could find to watch the statue go by. Thousands of policemen were deployed in a desperate bid to form a cordon allowing for the safe passage of the convoy. Defeated by pollution in Africa s largest metropolis, the statue will make its new home at the Grand Egyptian Museum, near the Giza Pyramids. The statue was brought to Cairo in 1954, where it soon became one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city, the first sight to greet passengers coming out of the train station. Two years earlier, a group of young officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser had overthrown British-backed King Farouk and abolished a monarchy that had become too closely associated with foreign powers. Nasser wanted to use Ramses II, whose giant statue was discovered in 1882 in the ancient capital of Memphis, to symbolize the authentically Egyptian roots of the new republic. It was chopped up in eight pieces and reassembled. Not a single archeologist was present. It was the decision of a military dictatorship, said Hawass. Ramses will be happy now, Hawass told AFP. He would have been unhappy in his tomb knowing that the statue was staying in such a mess where nobody can see him anymore. The transfer was practized last month with a fake statue, because Hawass said he would not allow mistakes and would take all responsibility on himself. Some Egyptian archeologists, politicians and intellectuals have opposed the transfer, alleging it was decided under U.S. pressure because Ramses II is believed to be the pharaoh who oppressed the Jews and forced Moses to take his people out of Egypt and was perceived as an anti-Israeli symbol. Hawass dismissed that view, relayed by one of his predecessors in the Egyptian press, as totally stupid, cheap demagoguery . Blindfolded by a cast of plaster designed to protect it along the perilous transfer, the statue moved through the urban web of congested streets, flyovers and overpopulated buildings that make Cairo the largest metropolis in Africa. Ramses II, from the 19th dynasty of pharaohs, reigned over Egypt for 68 years, from 1304 to 1237 BC, and is believed to have lived to the age of 90. He covered the country with monuments to his exploits and his mummy, on display in the National Museum in Cairo, is one of the country s biggest tourist attractions.

Topics: Aboul Fotouh

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https://dailyfeed.dailynewsegypt.com/2006/08/26/cairo-bids-joyous-farewell-to-giant-ramses-statue/
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