Mariam Rizk, February 3, 2013
UNESCO pledged Friday to help restore a renowned museum dedicated to Islamic history in Cairo that was devastated by a bomb last week, with officials expressing “shock” at the scale of the damage.
The Museum of Islamic Art was across the street from the truck bomb that targeted the Egyptian capital’s security headquarters on Jan. 24. The bomb killed four people and caused damage to buildings for hundreds of meters around, smashing the museum’s facade and sending debris crashing onto exhibits.
Antiquities Minister Mohammad Ibrahim said that 164 of the 1,471 items on display were damaged, of which 90 could be reassembled or restored. Most of the 74 irreparably damaged items were glass and porcelain, now smashed to powder.
On a tour of the building Friday, shattered glass littered the floor while fragments and steel slabs from the broken windows lay all over.
“It was an outstanding museum and to see it now, inside at least, totally destroyed is a big shock for us,” Christian Manhart, head of UNESCO’s museums sections, said at a news conference.
The U.N. cultural agency had already set aside emergency funds of $100,000 on the day of the blast and said further technical and financial help would follow after detailed reports were filed. Ibrahim said the U.S. government would provide 1 million Egyptian pounds (about $150,000) while a well-known actor, Mohammad Sobhy, said he would be giving 50,000 pounds.