CAIRO: Nine antique paintings were stolen from the Mohamed Ali Palace in Shubra El-Kheima, the Ministry of Culture announced Tuesday.
Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Farouk Abdel Salam, first undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture, visited the Palace immediately after the theft was reported.
While the ministry is reluctant to reveal any details regarding investigations into the theft, a source from the Supreme Council of Antiquities told Daily News Egypt that council will not be involved in the investigations, and that the ministry is the only body responsible.
The stolen paintings date back to the Mohamed Ali era and were granted to the Palace after its renovation from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
After his visit to the crime scene, the minister told the press that the paintings were last seen by the Palace’s workers on Monday afternoon.
Abdel Fattah Hassan, member in the People’s Assembly’s (PA) culture, information and tourism committee, told Daily News Egypt that he has requested the Ministry of Culture to provide further information regarding this case to the committee.
He accused the ministry of purposely concealing details, but said that it would be justified if it were doing so not to disrupt police investigations rather than “any other reason.
Hassan, who is the PA representative in the governorate of Qaliubiya, said he will hold a meeting with its governor to discuss the theft.
“I am afraid that this theft will be the start of series of other thefts of our national antiquities, Hassan said, implying that such thefts are inside jobs.
On the other hand, Ahmed Salah, spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture, told Daily News Egypt that the ministry is not withholding any information about the theft or the investigation.
“The matter is now in the hands of the police and there is nothing we can do about it, he said.