Tuesday October 19

Millennium Bash Decried As Plot

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Islamist newspaper on Tuesday denounced Egypt's plans for a spectacular New Year millennium celebration as part of a Zionist plot to lay claim to the pyramids.

Al-Shaab, bi-weekly mouthpiece of Egypt's Islamist-oriented Labor Party, argued that the show, organized by ``Zionist'' French musician Jean-Michel Jarre, would bolster what it called Zionist claims that Jews had constructed the 4,500-year-old pyramids.

``The Jews claim that they are owners of Egypt's ancient civilization and the builders of the pyramids,'' wrote Labor Party Secretary-General Adel Hussein in a frontpage article.

Jarre, famous for albums such as Oxygene and Equinoxe, will perform a 12-hour electronic opera in a $9 million spectacular on the pyramids plateau, featuring 1,000 performers, lasers, fireworks, and a mix of Oriental and Western music.

``The climax of the awesome celebration is the placing of gold cap on the main (Cheops) pyramid. What we are dealing with here is crowning the top of our Great Pyramid with the symbol of Masonic Zionism,'' Hussein wrote.

Egypt's Culture Minister Farouk Hosni has already come under fire from nationalists in the arts community for choosing a foreigner to lead the millennium party, expected to attract thousands of tourists and intense media interest.

``The minister is free to choose who he wants,'' said Culture Ministry spokesman Ahmed Khalil on Tuesday. ``If (Jarre) is a Zionist or not is nothing to do with us. He's an artist.''