Why is the right wing attacking the director of the Egyptian Museum? For something from 7 years ago

Christian Greco, the director of the Egyptian Museum, is at the center of a crossfire attack from the right, with the deputy secretary of the League even calling for his resignation. The reason? An affair that goes all the way back to 2016....

“Christian Greco, director of the Egyptian Museum in Turin, make a gesture of dignity and resign. We will do everything we can to oust him, and we ask Culture Minister Sangiuliano to oust him if he does not resign. ”These are the words of Andrea Crippa, deputy secretary of the League interviewed by the daily Affaritaliani.it, who lashes out at the director of the Egyptian Museum of Turin, Christian Greco. But what is Greco’s fault? Given the strength of the claim, one might assume that the director of the Egyptian Museum has committed something serious. Actually, nothing of the sort: in fact, Crippa dredged up an initiative that the Egyptian Museum launched in 2016 and replicated the following year, when it offered a discount (two tickets for the price of one), for a limited time, to speakers of the Arabic language.

“A few years ago,” Crippa said, “Greco decided on a discount only for Muslim citizens, and I asked citizens to protest by flooding the switchboard with phone calls. He sued me, I was convicted in the first instance and acquitted in the second, winning the case. He is a leftist director who ran the Egyptian Museum in Turin in an ideological and racist way against Italians and Christian citizens. He has discounted only Muslims and never those who profess other religions. He should be kicked out immediately, so better if he makes a gesture of dignity and leaves himself. Unbelievable that after running the Museum in an ideological way he is now asking to keep his seat in the center-right government. The Egyptian Museum in Turin is paid for by the citizens and he only listens to the left. He is a racist against Italians and Christians. Resign immediately he would make a better impression.” In fact, the initiative was not organized on the basis of the visitors’ religion , but only on the basis of the language they spoke: therefore, even Italians and Christians could take advantage of the facility if they demonstrated their familiarity with the Arabic language. In addition, the initiative was accompanied by tours, guided visits and family routes as part of a cultural mediation project aimed at the Arabic-speaking community in Turin.

What happened next? The word went to the courts: Crippa, in January 2018, when he held the position of leader of the league-affiliated “Young Fathers’ Movement,” had staged a phone call to a fake switchboard operator at the museum to create a video against the initiative to spread via social media. In a ruling 1375 of April 20-21, 2020, by the Court of Turin, Crippa was sentenced to damages of 15,000 euros because, according to the judges, the Leghist’s initiative “incited hatred” and was designed to “push intolerance in such a way as to propagate effectively.” The Court of Appeals, in ruling 727 on June 9, 2021, overturned the court’s decision, ruling that while the Egyptian Museum’s initiative was a legitimate promotional choice, Crippa’s opposition was equally legitimate, since according to the judges, political criticism can also be expressed through staging, provided that the chosen mode is not such as to alter the truth of the facts (in fact, it is the content and not the form that counts, as long as “an intrinsic deceptive and deceptive valence suitable in itself to alter, distorting and falsifying it, the content of the message conveyed” is not manifested. It was then a peculiar historical moment, according to the judges, and Crippa’s initiative was political in nature, as it was carried out during an election campaign period, at a time when the issue of migrants was at the center of the center-right parties’ programs. The Court of Appeals therefore found justified the use of “language characterized by typical semiotic procedures notoriously aimed not only at rationally convincing the electoral body, but also at persuading it by appealing to its emotionality.” The video was then followed, as the Court of Appeals itself noted, by an “uncivilized and dastardly florilege of insults, contumely, threats, and telephone and telematic insults” at the Egyptian Museum, but Crippa’s video was not held accountable for such behavior. In essence, Crippa’s was a legitimate exercise of the right of political criticism.

As for the call for “ouster,” the Egyptian Museum is run by a foundation, and the appointment of the director, according to the statute, is not up to the minister or politicians, but to the institution’s board of directors. In recent days, moreover, Greco had also been criticized by the Piedmont region’s councillor for welfare, Maurizio Marrone (FdI), who in an interview with the Turin edition of Corriere della Sera had said, “Greco has uncommon managerial skills, but I think there are potentially more qualified figures, who have been penalized not say for the directorship, but even for a place on the museum’s board of directors.” The board of directors had immediately rallied around Greco, though without mentioning the interview: the board therefore expressed “unanimously, with absolute conviction, its appreciation for the excellent work carried out, now since 2014, by its director Christian Greco.” “Thanks to his work,” reads a note from the board, “our museum has become a global excellence, with two major structural transformation operations, more than 90 collaborations with the world’s leading universities and museum institutions, training and research activities at the highest levels, environmental and financial sustainability, as well as inclusive policies and important economic spin-offs for the city area and beyond. Recalling that, according to Article 9 of our bylaws, the appointment and dismissal of the director rests exclusively with the board of directors, we renew to Christian Greco our total confidence and heartfelt thanks for his extraordinary work.”

Greco, again following Marrone’s words, then received support from the undersecretary for culture, Vittorio Sgarbi: “I think he does not deserve Marrone’s harsh criticism,” he said. “No doubt about the qualities, commitment and results of Greco, director and free spirit, a condition without which one cannot effectively direct one of the world’s greatest museums. Director Greco is doing very well. He is good and is unquestionable. Just as the alderman’s statement is legitimate: anyone can say there is one better than the other. The best response is not to collect signatures, but to ignore him. Instead, this exit of his, which is legitimate, has resulted in an empowerment of Greco, because from opinion it looks like political censure. And it cannot be because the director of that Museum is appointed by the President of the Foundation, who must be appointed by us. But then our power ends there. The matter does not exist. It looks like a comedy of misunderstandings.” As for the initiative in favor of Arabic-speaking citizens, however, Sgarbi said that “it was a marketing operation targeting that 2 percent audience. I told Meloni ’you misinterpreted,’ and she went to talk to the director. Her loyalists now think they are interpreting her position, but it is not certain that Meloni still thinks the same way, because she has changed many positions on the issue of migrants. They should check how she thinks now.”

In any case, Greco will remain in office until June 30, 2025. He therefore still has almost two years left in the job. And at the moment it is very unlikely to imagine his ouster. Besides, the board of directors will have the final say.

Pictured: Christian Greco

Why is the right wing attacking the director of the Egyptian Museum? For something from 7 years ago
Why is the right wing attacking the director of the Egyptian Museum? For something from 7 years ago

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