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Cairo Library launches a campaign to save heritage

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Many monuments have suffered from illegal construction and robberies

The poster shows the deteriorating surrounding s of the Gany Bek Al Ashrafi mosque.  Photo from Save Cairo Campaign Facebook page.

The poster shows the deteriorating surrounding s of the Gany Bek Al Ashrafi mosque.
Photo from Save Cairo Campaign Facebook page.

Given the current state of Islamic monuments in Egypt, the Cairo Library decided to launch a campaign to try to bring awareness to the negligence monuments in historic Cairo suffer from.  The campaign is headed by architect Dr Galila AlQady, novelist Gamal AlGhitany, and Amina Abdel Bar who is a PhD candidate and a member of the Save Cairo campaign.

Historic Cairo has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site since 1979, but according to the campaign, this status is about to change due to the continuing negligence and destruction of the sites. According to Dr AlGhitany, the agreements and treaties Egypt signed prohibits the destruction of monuments and any random construction next to them. Since Egypt is failing to prevent this from happening, it might lead to historic Cairo being taken off the UNESCO heritage site list.

During the press conference on Sunday 27 April, Al Ghitany explicitly accused some countries of trying to illegally obtain Islamic artifacts from Egypt through unofficial channels. He specifically named Qatar as one of alleged countries trying to obtain the artifacts to enrich its new Islamic Arts Museum.

Amina Abdel Bar gave a presentation on the damaged monuments across historic Cairo in which she highlighted that the damage to the monuments and illegal construction has increased after the 25 January Revolution. AlGhitany explained that the damage has increased due to the lack of police presence and the negligence of the Ministry of State for Antiquities.

The list included the Qaitbay mosque, which suffered from robberies that included stealing all the fillings of the mosque’s minbar. It also included the Al Silahdar mosque, the Qagmas al-Ishaqi mosque which is featured on the 50-pound note, and the Gany Bek Al Ashrafi mosque among others. In addition, during the press conference a group of workers at the Ministry of Antiquities reviewed the threat of acquisition of part of the land of the old Fustat area by the government.

The campaigners have already submitted a complaint with the prosecutor general, urging the government to take action against all illegal construction within the historic Cairo area. Part of the complaint reads: “What we bring to your attention is not just a complaint against some state officials here and there; we have here an immense and encircling danger which will have terrible consequences for Egypt; for its international reputation, and for the tourism which represents such a core contribution to the Egyptian national income.”


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