The Egyptian Antiquities Museum, home to some of the most important artifacts ever and the largest collection of treasures from ancient Egypt, was under threat a third time yesterday in less than a week as a result of the ongoing protests in Cairo, Egypt.
After a day of very peaceful protesting on Tuesday, deadly clashes erupted between protesters calling for the regime to step down and others calling on President Mubarak to stay on Wednesday. Pro-Mubarak protesters tossed molotov and petrol bombs at the anti-Mubarak protesters gathering in Liberation Square for at least 10 hours continuously.
Now, the Egyptian Antiquities Museum lies right at the entrance to Liberation Square. Several of these bombs fell very close to the museum, igniting fears for the precious collections inside. A car parked right outside the museum and a large tree caught fire an hour or so before dawn, but protesters and military soldiers who were protecting the museum quickly rushed to put the fires out. A fire truck which is now permanently parked within the museum’s courtyard also quickly turned its hoses at the fire to stop it before it spread any further.
Thankfully, the fires were controlled before they spread any further into the museum. This morning security around the museum has increased and everyone, both civilians and military, are rather tense. They don’t allow anyone to linger around for too long around the museum and quickly rush people who try to get too close away.
Earlier this week, fires broke out in surrounding buildings, threatening the museum. People desperately tried to control the fires during a near complete lack fire trucks before the military intervened to help. Gangs of looters also tried to break in and steal some of the priceless pieces within several times. When they failed to steal anything, they smashed many of the glass cases and damaged at least one statue of the boy-king Tutankhamun. To protect the museum, protesters had formed a human shield surrounding it for several days before the military took over.
Below is a video I shot from the protest today showing what the museum looks like from the outside now, and the damage in the area surrounding it.