Facelift of Cairo’s Baron Palace sparks outcry

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A general view of the restoration work at the Baron Empain Palace, "Qasr el Baron" or The Hindu Palace, built in the 20th century by a Belgian industrialist Edouard Louis Joseph, also known as Baron Empain, in the Cairo's suburb Heliopolis, Egypt August 18, 2019. (Reuters)
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An Egyptian worker is seen during the restoration work inside the Baron Empain Palace, "Qasr el Baron" or The Hindu Palace, built in the 20th century by Belgian industrialist Edouard Louis Joseph, also known as Baron Empain, in the Cairo's suburb Heliopolis, Egypt August 18, 2019. (Reuters)
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Egyptian workers carry out restoration work of the Baron Empain Palace, "Qasr el Baron" or The Hindu Palace, built in the 20th century by Belgian industrialist Edouard Louis Joseph, also known as Baron Empain, in the Cairo's suburb Heliopolis, Egypt August 18, 2019. (Reuters)
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Archaeologists work on restoring relief sculptures at the historic "Le Palais Hindou" (also known as the "Baron Empain Palace") built by in the early 20th century by Belgian industrialist Edouard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain, in the classical Khmer architectural style of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, in the Egyptian capital Cairo's northeastern Heliopolis district on August 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2019

Facelift of Cairo’s Baron Palace sparks outcry

  • Work to restore the building has sparked outcry
  • Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany dismissed online criticisms as “fake news”

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have defended renovation works at a historic Cairo palace after the site’s new look sparked mockery on social media.
The site, dubbed the Baron Palace, was built between 1907 and 1911 by wealthy Belgian industrialist Edouard Empain.
The baron also spearheaded the development of the surrounding upmarket neighborhood of Heliopolis.
Built in a style reminiscent of the Cambodian Hindu temple of Angkor Wat, the striking building set amid lush gardens has long since fallen into disrepair.
But work to restore the building has sparked outcry.
Many have taken issue with white marble additions to the building’s rosy pink stone exterior, saying the materials are of poor quality and not in keeping with the original style.
One Twitter user asked: “Who is the fool behind the restoration of Egypt’s palaces? Our heritage is being systematically destroyed.”
A Facebook page called Egyptian Historians chided officials for the “warped” restoration.
“Be honest with yourselves and admit that you ruined it... you are literally demolishing our monuments,” a post on the group’s page said.
Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany dismissed online criticisms as “fake news.”
“I didn’t hear one word of truth in all these social media comments,” he said in a statement.
His ministry said the colors of the palace had faded from weather damage over many years.
“The restoration is a real dream and we will breathe life into this abandoned landmark,” Enany added.
General Hisham Samir, who heads up the ministry’s engineering branch, said the colors were “correct and are backed up by historical sources.”
The works began in July 2017 in cooperation with the Belgian government and will cost 100 million Egyptian pounds (over $6 million), the statement added.
Samir told AFP that the work is expected to be completed by year’s end with plans to open the building to the public by early 2020.
Egypt’s multitude of historical monuments and buildings are a major draw for tourists, though the country has often faced accusations of neglecting these sites.
The government has recently launched various restoration projects to stimulate tourism, a key sector that has suffered in recent years due to political insecurity and sporadic militant attacks.


Scores of civilians tortured to death in Houthi prisons in Yemen

The report documented 170 deaths - including nine children - from September 2014 to December 2018 in jails run by the Iran-backed militia. (File/AFP)
Updated 59 min 24 sec ago

Scores of civilians tortured to death in Houthi prisons in Yemen

  • The report highlighted 455 cases of torture committed by the Houthis
  • Houthis were responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people

DUBAI: Scores of civilians, including women, children and the elderly have been tortured to death in Houthi prisons over four years, a human rights organization has revealed.

The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations documented 170 deaths - including nine children - from September 2014 to December 2018 in jails run by the Iran-backed militia.

The report, which was revealed at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland also highlighted 455 cases of torture committed by the Houthis.

It was revealed last week that the Houthis were also responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people in the same time period.

Those missing include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people.