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Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry struggles with smuggling

Egypt is taking new steps to protect its antiquities against theft in a battle that has been waged since tomb raiders plundered the resting places of pharaohs thousands of years ago.
Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany looks at exhibits on display during the opening of "Tutankhamun's Unseen Treasures" exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt November 15, 2017. Picture taken November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RC1594582550
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CAIRO — Egypt recently recovered another cache of smuggled antiquities, bringing attention once again to the challenges of protecting the country's ancient artifacts. Earlier this month, customs officers at Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates confiscated 354 artifacts dating from different eras of ancient Egyptian and Islamic civilization and handed them over to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

The pieces are among thousands of antiquities that have been exported illegally from Egypt and put up for sale at global auction halls, including some reputable houses. Christie's New York auction house held an exhibition Oct. 25 to sell some 164 Egyptian artifacts, prompting Egyptian parliament member and TV host Mustafa Bakri to ask during his Oct. 27 show, Hakaek wa Asrar (Facts and Secrets), “Who is responsible for stealing and selling the Egyptian antiquities at international auctions?” He called for a campaign to recover such items.

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