It has sometimes been claimed that, like human rights and democracy, the protection of Egypt's cultural heritage cannot be left to the Egyptians. Corruption, poverty and ignorance, Egypt's critics maintain, pose a serious threat to the preservation of artefacts of "global importance".

Egypt's own Antiquities Council, of course, claims otherwise. Attempting to demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding "national heritage", erstwhile director Zahi Hawass waged a mildly successful international campaign to repatriate what "rightly belongs" to Egypt.

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