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Can Karnak sphinxes survive on Tahrir Square?

Egyptian and international experts and activists worry that moving four ram-headed sphinxes from Luxor to Tahrir Square will destroy the monuments.

The decision by the Egyptian government to move four large pharaonic sculptures from Luxor, in Upper Egypt, to iconic Tahrir Square, in downtown Cairo, has sparked controversy. During a Dec. 26 visit to redevelopment work on Tahrir, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli revealed the government's intention to transfer the huge sphinxes with ram heads from the Karnak Temple complex to stand alongside an obelisk from the time of King Ramses II, which is currently in the nearby Egyptian Museum off Tahrir Square.

A number of archaeologists and social media activists in Egypt and beyond expressed their objection to the move, urging the government to leave the sphinxes in Luxor and to instead install replicas in Cairo. Monica Hanna, head of the Heritage and Archeology Unit at the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Aswan, circulated a petition to stop the transfer. Addressed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the petition garnered the signatures of 1,500 professors, archaeologists and well-known personalities, Hanna told Al-Monitor.

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