Cairo Opera House Strikes In Protest of Muslim Brotherhood Cultural Policies


US media is reporting on the conflict between the staff and cast of the Cairo Opera House and the Egyptian Minister of Culture, said to be a supporter of President Morsi and the ruling Freedom and Justice party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to a Wall Street Journal report:

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

In a dramatic show of defiance, the cast of Verdi’s opera Aida appeared on stage at the Cairo Opera House last week to make an announcement: they weren’t performing. Thus kicked off their protest of what they said is a ‘detailed plan’ to destroy Egypt’s artistic expression by the newly appointed culture minister.

Artists and administrative staff of the opera company began their strike after Alaa Abdelaziz, Egypt’s new minister of culture, sacked the opera company director Ines Abdel-Dayem and the head of Egypt’s fine arts sector, Salah El-Meleigy. Staffers have closed the curtain on all performances, accusing President Mohammed Morsi and his ruling party of trying to strip Egyptians of their culture and artistic heritage.

Despite missing the performance of Aida, the spectators came out on the side of the artists. In a video posted on YouTube, the audience can be seeing chanting in support of the protesters, with shouts of ’Bravo, Long Live Egypt’ and of ’Irhal,’ or ‘leave,’ the Arabic word that was one of the mantras in the protests that eventually brought down President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Morsi’s predecessor, more than two years ago.

‘As artists and administration staff of the Egyptian Opera House, we have decided to abstain from performing tonight’s showing of opera Aida as a start to bringing down the curtain on all performances and activities of the opera until the minister of culture is removed from his position,’ said Nayer Nagui, principal conductor and artistic director of the Cairo Opera House Orchestra.

Mr. Abdelaziz, who said the shakeup was to bring new faces to the art and culture programs, is widely known among his critics to be a supporter of Mr. Morsi and the ruling Freedom and Justice party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Opera House artists, who have been striking for over a week now, are not convinced.

Read the rest here.

A post from yesterday reported  that an Egyptian activist accused of insulting Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and “spreading false news” had been convicted and given a six-month suspended sentence. The post also reported that the number of court cases and complaints involving charges of insulting the president was said to be four times that during the rule of the former President Mubarak.

post from May 2013 reported that that Reporters Without Borders had added the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood  to their list of ‘Predators of Freedom of Information’ for 2013.

Another post from May 2013 reported that almost one third of the adviser appointed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have resigned.

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