Smuggling antiques is plundering civilization [Archives:2008/1211/Community]

November 27 2008

By: Mojeeb H. Shubaa
[email protected]

Because of Yemen's strategic location and wonderful climate, Yemen has a great history and ancient civilization which makes the country a coveted destination for stealing invaluable ancient artifacts.

Tourism has suffered from the silly behavior of uneducated individuals, such as those who try to kidnapping foreign tourists and turn them into their guests by force for reasons that are neither convincing nor legal. They act recklessly for personal benefits and ignore that their actions make Yemen lose much. Carelessness in activating tourism in most archeological areas is also an obstacle, especially as these sites often lack public utilities.

It hurts us when we hear nowadays about failed attempts to steal and smuggle old artifacts because of the lack of protection of these sites, which allows individuals to disturb archeological sites by digging haphazardly in them without the knowledge of either the ministry of tourism or concerned archeologists.

Those who steal ancient relics and manuscripts to smuggle them outside the country in exchange for money aren't aware of the crime they are committing. They ignore that, by stealing, they are demolishing an ancient civilization and effacing its identity.

Those who try and sell their booty at high prices to tourists don't realize that all the money they receive cannot equal the moral value of these ancient objects. They are selling the history and tradition of their own country, source of their honor and glory of the past and future.

Only the fact that many attempts to steal these antiquities fail is a consolation, because there are still honest people to take care of our heritage and preserve it. Society's perception of the importance of preserving these antiques from thieves and smugglers confirm the degree of knowledge of people in the country. It gives us a general idea about how much more society wishes to protect our homeland's treasures from plundering or demolishing by silly people with no regard for our heritage.

All of us must be stricter with those who commit these crimes because they hurt their own country's civilization and history. We must help the government to curtail any attempts to steal antiques because it is our collective responsibility to do so.