CAIRO: Eight Islamic wooden art pieces arrived on Friday at Cairo International Airport from Copenhagen after a Danish court ruled that Egypt is entitled to recover them, MENA reported Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh el-Damaty as saying.
“The Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry, in cooperation with the Egyptian Embassy in Copenhagen and the Antiquities Ministry succeeded in establishing recovery rights through a judgment announced by a Danish court,” Damaty said. In December, the Danish police managed to seize the eight artifacts as part of a parcel sent from the U.S. to Switzerland via Denmark.
The pieces were stolen off the wooden pulpit of the Mosque of Emir Ghanim al-Bahlawan, built in 1470 and located outside Bab Zuela in Islamic Cairo’s district of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar, head of Ministry of Antiquities’ restored artifacts department Ali Ahmed told The Cairo Post.
“The mosque was closed for renovation since 2005 during an inspection tour of former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass in 2008, who noticed the damage to the pulpit of the mosque and the disappearance of wooden inlaid,” Ahmed said.
He added that Hawass ordered immediate investigations to be carried out to identify the perpetrators. In December 2008, the Egyptian embassy in Copenhagen was informed that the artifacts were seized in the customs office at Copenhagen Kastrup Airport.
Egypt succeeded in recovering over 135 ancient artifacts that were to be sold in an auction houses in several countries, according to a statement released by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities in November.
Egypt’s political turmoil since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and its consequent security lapse left the country’s cultural heritage vulnerable to looting. In spite of the efforts of the Egyptian government in tracking the smuggled artifacts inside Egypt and in auction houses abroad, the issue is still unsettled.