Citizens Circle Cairo’s Egyptian Museum to Protect Antiquities

Posted on January 29, 2011

Friday, Jan 28, 2011 20:26 ET

Egypt’s military secures famed antiquities museum

To prevent looters from getting inside, citizens form a human chain around the home of King Tut’s gold mask

By DIAA HADID and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press

    Fire next to Egyptian Museum

    A fire at the ruling party headquarters next door threatened to engulf the Egyptian Museum, which houses over 120,000 artifacts.

    The Egyptian army secured Cairo’s famed antiquities museum early Saturday, protecting treasures including the famed gold mask of King Tutankhamun from looters.

    The greatest threat to the Egyptian Museum first appeared to come from the fire enguling the ruling party headquarters next door on Friday night as anti-government protests roiled the country.

    Then dozens of would-be thieves started entering the grounds surrounding the museum.

    Suddenly other young men — some armed with truncheons taken from the police — formed a human chain outside the main gates on Tahrir Square in an attempt to protect the collection inside.

    “I’m standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure,” said one of the men, Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.

    Another man, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said it was important to guard the museum because it “has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we’ll never find it again.”

    Finally, four armored vehicles took up posts outside the massive coral-colored building in downtown Cairo. Soldiers surrounded the building and moved inside to protect mummies, monumental stone statues, ornate royal jewelry and other pharaonic artifacts.