In politics, in Australia, the think tank, Future Directions International (FDI), published a report which warned that the anti-Western rhetoric of Hizb ut-Tahrir “could pose a ‘socio-cultural’ security threat by increasing disharmony between Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.” Hizb ut-Tahrir criticized the quality of the study and the validity of the conclusions. Azerbaijan made news for participation in UNESCO’s committee for protection of cultural property during armed conflict.
In a crossover of politics and security, Egypt engaged in talks with Israel to prevent the destruction of a war memorial for Egyptian soldiers of the Six Day War in the West Bank. The Pakistan People’s Party tasked the Ministry of National Heritage and the Foreign Ministry with coordinating efforts to repatriate Gandhara artifacts that had been trafficked to Western nations. Iran condemned the destruction of a monument by Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. In India, former politicians surrendered to the court in the twenty-year-old case of the demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque.
In economics, Georgia voiced appreciation of USAID in economic development and cited potential of a rich cultural heritage. Criticism continued over a lack of aesthetic appreciation in acquisitions of art. In China, the first Chinese Art Market Development Summit declared Beijing as a “maturing art market center of the world.” In the art market, one report indicated that sales of Sotheby’s dropped by 10% from last year. Founders of start-ups in the on-line art market sector voiced optimism with the “disproportionate” expansion of the market in emerging markets.
In a crossover of economics and security, in Pakistan, the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) attempted but failed to halt the sale of a Fasting Buddha, which had been illicitly removed and fetched over $11 million at auction at Christie’s in New York in 2011. Palestine claimed that loss of land and lack of control of borders impedes the development of tourism. In Afghanistan, the deadline for completing excavation of Buddhist artifacts at the Mes Aynak mine approaches. In Afghanistan, the governor of the central bank reported on an investigation of potential money laundering with large shipments of gold leaving the country.
In security, a retrospective commentary for the year referred to Islamists “systematically destroying the indigenous cultures of Mali, Lower Sudan, Niger, and Nigeria.” In Cyprus, the UN Ambassador reported on systematic and widespread destruction of cultural and religious heritage in the Turkish-occupied areas of the island. In Syria, new rebel Islamist groups act independently in attacks on cultural property. In Greece, two thieves received life sentences for trafficking in cultural artifacts.
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