Archaeologists dismiss claims recent Egyptian disasters caused by pharaohs’ curse

Archaeologists dismiss claims recent Egyptian disasters caused by pharaohs’ curse
Zahi Hawass (back, 3rd L) supervises the removal of King Tutankhamen from his stone sarcophagus, in his underground tomb, in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, November 4, 2007. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 March 2021

Archaeologists dismiss claims recent Egyptian disasters caused by pharaohs’ curse

Archaeologists dismiss claims recent Egyptian disasters caused by pharaohs’ curse
  • Plans to move 22 royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization have coincided with a string of major incidents
  • Egypt has been in the international spotlight after a giant cargo ship ran aground, blocking the Suez Canal, and a fatal train crash in Sohag

CAIRO: Claims that a series of recent disasters in Egypt have been brought about by a pharaohs’ curse were on Monday dismissed by archaeologists.

Plans over the coming days to move 22 royal mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir to a permanent exhibition space in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization have coincided with a string of major incidents in the country.

And some reports have suggested that the serious occurrences are linked to the pending transfer of the preserved ancient monarchs.

Egypt has been in the international spotlight after a giant cargo ship ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal, preventing billions of dollars-worth of trade per day passing through the strategic waterway.

The country has also witnessed a fatal train crash in Sohag, the collapse of a 10-storey property at Suez Bridge, a shops fire at Zagazig railway station, the collapse of a concrete pillar on a bridge under construction in Mariotia, and blazes at the Maadi Tower and a house in Minya.

All the events have taken place as the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities prepares to shift the mummified pharaohs as part of the nation’s ongoing efforts to develop and modernize Cairo and other cities through the completion of various archaeological and cultural activities.

Some social media users put the timing of the incidents down to a curse of the pharaohs quoting the ancient leaders as warning that, “death will come on quick wings for those who disturb the king’s peace.”

However, former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass poured cold water on the claims. “The occurrence of these accidents is just fate and there is no connection between them and the mummies at all,” he said.

The archaeologist pointed out that he had supervised the discovery of some of the tombs of ancient Egyptians and had not been harmed.

Among the museum exhibits to be transferred are the mummies of kings Ramesses II, Seqenenre Tao, Thutmose III, and Seti I, and queens Hatshepsut, Meritamen, the wife of King Amenhotep I, and Ahmose-Nefertari, wife of King Ahmose.

Egyptian historian and writer, Bassam El-Shammaa, also rejected rumors of a pharaohs’ curse on the country. He said that phrases and shapes carved on the walls of temples simply expressed the imagination of ancient Egyptians.

He added that some mummies were moldy, causing a build up on tomb walls of bacteria which could attack the respiratory system and be fatal.

He also pointed out that ammonia gas could also leak from coffins, resulting in burning to the eyes and nose, pneumonia, and sometimes death, and that bat excrement found inside some graves carried a fungus that could bring on respiratory disease similar to influenza.


Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor
Updated 20 October 2021

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor
  • It was not initially known what caused the blast

BEIRUT: Six members of a pro-government militia were killed Wednesday in an arms depot blast in the central Syrian province of Hama, a war monitor reported.
Seven other members of the National Defense Forces militia were wounded in the blast, the cause of which remains largely unclear, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents
Updated 20 October 2021

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents
  • This could potentially end a months-long standoff with opposition

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s ruling emir on Wednesday paved the way for an amnesty pardoning dissidents that has been a major condition of opposition lawmakers to end a months-long standoff with the appointed government that has paralyzed legislative work.
Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah tasked the parliament speaker, the prime minister and the head of the supreme judicial council to recommend the conditions and terms of the amnesty ahead of it being issued by decree, Sheikh Nawaf’s office said.


Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians

Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians
Updated 20 October 2021

Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians

Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians
  • Among the casualties were several school children

AMMAN: At least 11 civilians died on Wednesday in a Syrian army shelling of residential areas of rebel-held Ariha city, witnesses and rescue workers said.
The shelling from Syrian army outposts, which came shortly after a roadside bomb killed at least 13 military personnel in Damascus, fell on residential areas in the city in Idlib province.
Among the casualties were several school children, witnesses and medical workers in the opposition enclave said.


13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media

13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media
Updated 20 October 2021

13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media

13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media
  • Images released by SANA showed a burning bus

DAMASCUS: A bomb attack on an army bus in Damascus killed at least 13 people Wednesday in the bloodiest such attack in years, the SANA state news agency reported.
“A terrorist bombing using two explosive devices targeted a passing bus” on a key bridge in the capital, the news agency said, reporting an initial casualty toll of 13 dead and three wounded.
Images released by SANA showed a burning bus and what it said was a bomb squad defusing a third device that had been planted in the same area.
Damascus had been mostly spared such violence in recent years, especially since troops and allied militia retook the last significant rebel bastion near the capital in 2018.


Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists

Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists
Updated 20 October 2021

Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists

Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists
  • Civil society members stage a sit-in outside the Justice Palace to show ‘solidarity with the judiciary’

BEIRUT: Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into the August 2020 port explosion, resumed investigations on Tuesday after being notified by the Lebanese Civil Court of Cassation of its second decision to reject the request submitted by the defendant in the case of MP Ali Hassan Khalil.

Normal service resumed at the Justice Palace in Beirut after a long vacation. The Lebanese army guarding roads leading to the palace and Ain Remaneh, which was the arena of bloody events on Thursday, over protests to dismiss Bitar from the case. The repercussions of these events have affected the political scene, its parties and the people.

Civil society activists under the auspices of the “Lebanese Opposition Front” staged a sit-in outside the Justice Palace to show “solidarity with the Judiciary carrying out its national duties and support for Judge Bitar to face the threats.”

Speaking on behalf of the protestors, activist Dr. Ziad Abdel Samad said: “A free and sovereign state cannot exist without a legitimate authority, judiciary and justice.”

Abdel Samad urged “the defendants to appear before Judge Bitar, because the innocent normally show up and defend themselves instead of resorting to threats.”

“We have reached this low point today because of a ruling elite allied with the Hezbollah statelet, protected by illegal arms.

“They want to dismiss Judge Bitar in all arbitrary ways and threats because he has come so close to the truth after they managed to dismiss the former judge, hiding behind their immunities because they know they are involved in the crime.”

Abdel Samad claimed that “those making threats are involved in the crime.”

Regarding the Tayouneh events that took place last week, he said: “They took to the streets to demonstrate peacefully, as they claimed, but they almost got us into a new civil war as a result of the hatred and conspiracies against Lebanon.”

Lawyer May Al-Khansa, known for her affiliation with Hezbollah, submitted a report at the Lebanese Civil Court of Cassation against the leader of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, Judge Bitar and “all those who appear in the investigation to be involved, accomplices or partners in crimes of terrorism and terrorism funding, undermining the state’s authority, inciting a strife, and other crimes against the law and the Lebanese Constitution.”

Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday night waged an unprecedented campaign of accusations and incitement against the Lebanese Forces party and its leader.    

Nasrallah accused them of being “the biggest threat for the presence of Christians in Lebanon” and said they were “forming alliances with Daesh.”

In a clear threat to Geagea and his party, Nasrallah bragged in his speech of having “100,000 trained fighters,” calling on Christians to “stand against this murderer.”

Nasrallah accused Bitar of “carrying out a foreign agenda targeting Hezbollah in the Beirut port crime” and of “being supported by embassies and authorities, turning him into a dictator.”

During the parliamentary session on Tuesday, no contact was made between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces. However, a handshake was spotted between the Lebanese Forces’ MP Pierre Abu Assi and the Amal Movement’s MP Hani Kobeissi.

Minister of Culture Mohammed Mortada, who represents Hezbollah, said “Hezbollah’s ministers will attend the ministerial session if Prime Minister Najib Mikati calls for one, but the justice minister and the judiciary must find a solution to the issue of lack of trust in Bitar.”

Several calls were made on Monday night between different political groups to prevent escalation and calm the situation.

Efforts are being made to reach a settlement that allows Bitar to keep his position and for defendants in the Beirut port case — who are former ministers and MPs — to be referred to the Supreme Judicial Council for prosecution.

Elsewhere, parliament dropped the proposal of a women’s quota ensuring female participation through  a minimum of 26 seats.

It passed a move to allow expats to vote for the 128 MPs and dropped the decision to allocate six additional seats representing them.

The parliament’s decision angered Gebran Bassil, who heads the Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc. Following the parliamentary session, Bassil referred to “a political game in the matter of expats’ right to vote, which we will not allow to happen.”