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Government says antiquities are safe

Egyptian special forces secure the main floor Monday inside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The Egyptian government says Egypt's museums and ancient monuments, including the Pyramids, are now safe.

Zahi Hawass, the antiquities minister in President Hosni Mubarak's new government, posted an update on his personal Web site this morning that the military had begun safeguarding the nation's heritage sites:

The commanders of the army are now protecting the Egyptian Museum, Cairo,and all of the major sites of Egypt (Luxor, Aswan, Saqqara, and the pyramids of Giza) are safe. The twenty-four museums in Egypt, including the Coptic and Islamic museums in Cairo, are all safe, as well. I would like to say that I am very happy to see that the Egyptian people, young and old, stood as one person against the escaped prisoners to protect monuments all over the country. The monuments are safe because of both the army and the ordinary people.

Some foreigners think Egypt is not interested in protecting our monuments and museums, but that is not true, at all. Egypt has 5,000 years of civilisation, and we love our heritage. I want to send a message to the people of Egypt: all of you are responsible, to ultimately be judged by your own history, to protect your monuments, and should not permit ignorance or outlaws to damage our history – it is the most important thing we own. I am sure the bells from the churches are ringing now, and the voices from the minarets of mosques are calling, to say that Egypt is a safe place to live.

Last week, Bedouins pulled up in a truck and looted a storage site in Qantara, near the Suez Canal, but Hawass writes that 288 objects — " the majority of what was stolen" — have now been returned.