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France Pres. calls for protecting cultural heritage in Mideast

By Ahmad Al-Mazyad

PARIS, Sept 7 (KUNA) -- French President Francois Hollande underlined keenness on protecting cultural heritage around the world in general and the Middle East in particular, where a wide-scale deliberate destruction and trading of antiquities was taking place.
Hollande's remarks came at the opening of an exhibition, "Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt," held at the Paris-based Arab World Institute.
The exhibition, he added, "presents a clear message that it is crucially important to protect the heritage in different parts of the world, specially in Syria and Iraq which are exposed to systematic destruction and sabotage by the hands of ISIL." Hollande called for the expansion of cooperation among museums worldwide and the UNESCO with the objective of protecting antiquities and address illegal trade in relics.
He said France and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization were working hand in hand to protect the cultural heritage.
Hollande said Egypt realized that its heritage "is a treasure for her and its community and humanity in general, as well as representing a cultural message to the world." He said holding the exhibition in Paris showed how solid the cultural relations were between France and Egypt.
He said the exhibition would be a success because it revealed secrets of previous centuries hidden underwater, citing the display of 250 pieces of the Osiris dynasty.
Hollande said exploration expedition began in 1996 and the result was discovery of temples and infrastructure, and the exhibition was an inspiration for hope for the Middle East that has been witnessing crises in the path of peace.
These crises, he went on to say, united the Europeans vis-a-vis the influx of refugees and the drowning of around 3,000 since the beginning of the year.
President of the Arab World Institue Jack Lang said Hollande's visit to the institue, the sixth since becoming president, showed his great interest in communication between France and the Arab world.
"Your support and encouragement for us to hold more special conferences to boost cultural awareness between people and France were warmly welcomed in the Arab world," he said.
Lang, who predicted around 700,000 people to visit the exhibition, said Osiris would remain a source of inspiration against violence.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the exhibition was held amidst growing challenges facing the Middle East, foremost protecting the heritage from destruction and illicit trading.
He said Egypt would remain a source of heritage and culture for the humanity.
Dr. Ghada Abdulbari, Cultural Attache at the Egyptian Embassy in Paris, said the exhibition was a milestone in the heritage-related events around the globe.
Speaking to KUNA, she said the collaboration between embassy and the Arab World Institute contributed to bringing the antiquities from the musuems of Alexandria and Egypt to be displayed in Paris. (end) amm.bs