By: Virginie Nguyen
View of the City of the Dead. The Sayeda Nafisa Mosque is visible in the background.
The streets of the City of the Dead are often silent and dusty, in contrast to Cairo’s usual noise, as no cars can enter the area’s narrow passageways.
Young boys playing cards in a courtyard of the City of the Dead.
Siham has been living in the City of the Dead since she was a child. The house belongs to her family, and the tomb of her ancestors is underneath the floor of the living room.
Some people live here because they have nowhere else to go. Although their living here is not a new phenomenon, the City of the Dead is still an example of Cairo’s acute housing crisis.
Fathi Salama is an undertaker’s assistant and has been working in the City of the Dead for 15 years. He lives in a room with two tombs with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. Fathi throws water on the floor to get rid of the dust.
An Egyptian balady cafe near Sayeda Nafisa Mosque, on the way to the City of the Dead.
Don’t miss The City of the Dead - Part one.
By: Virginie Nguyen
The City of the Dead, situated at Cairo’s Arafa necropolis, is a necropolis and cemetery below the Mokattam Hills. Stretching out for 6.4 km, the streets in the City of the Dead are quiet, narrow and often unpaved. There, one can find a dense grid of tomb and mausoleum structures, where some people live and work among the dead. Some reside here to be near ancestors, but most of them live there after being forced to move from central Cairo due to urban renewal demolitions and urbanization pressures. Other residents emigrated in from the agricultural countryside, looking for work.
The necropolis has been around for more than 700 years, but no one is sure of the exact number of people living among the million or so tombs.
In the past, the Arab conquerors chose the area as a burial ground in order to be far away from the city but a deserted location. In the Egyptian society, the cemeteries are not considered as a place for the dead but rather a place where life begins..
Among the cemeteries of the City of the Dead lives a community of Egypt’s urban and poor residents. There are five major cemeteries: the Northern Cemetery, Bab el Nasr Cemetery, the Southern Cemetery, the Cemetery of the Great, and Bab al-Wazir Cemetery.
Egyptians don’t really see cemeteries as a place of the dead, but rather a place where life begins.
Although they are tolerated, the residents living in the City of the Dead are insecure about their status, as they are living there illegally.
A young boy walks around the tomb of an important business man. His parents are the undertakers of the family of the business man. They are living in a small house just next to it.
A young woman praying at Sayeda Nafisa Mosque on Prophet Mohamed’s birthday.
Nowadays, the population of the City of the Dead is growing quickly due to rural migration and a housing crisis that has grown worse since the revolution.
In the past, Cairo rulers chose this area for their tombs in order to be outside the crowded city in a deserted location. This area was used as a burial ground for different dynasties, including the Fatimids, Abbasids, Ayyubids, Mamlukes, and the Ottomans, among others.
Part two here.
By: Virginie Nguyen
Fighting broke out on the night of 19 November in Cairo during a mass demonstration to commemorate last year’s clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Protesters were throwing rocks while police fired birdshot and tear gas at them.
A field hospital was organized near Mohamed Mahmoud Street, then in Tahrir Square.
Central Security Forces were on the other side of the wall in Sheikh Rihan Street.
One week after the beginning of the clashes, a massive new concrete wall was erected on Qasr al-Aini Street leading to Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Since 19 November, clashes still have continued near the Interior Ministry and Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Police and protesters threw rocks at each other. Police used tear gas and, reportedly, rubber bullets, while protesters threw Molotov cocktails.
Thousands of protesters marched Monday to commemorate the death of activist Gaber Salah, also known as Jika, who was a member of the April 6 Youth Movement. The funeral procession moved from Omar Makram Mosque to Mohamed Mahmoud Street, then from Tahrir Square to the cemetery where he was buried.
Salah died Sunday after being shot during protests Friday.
Several demonstrations have been organized to protest the decree granting new powers to President Mohamed Morsy. Meanwhile, clashes between the Central Security Forces and young protesters continue near Omar Makram Mosque, close to Tahrir Square.
Protests across Egypt have continued into their ninth day, as Egyptians demonstrate against President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration, which gives him sweeping new powers.
Clashing with security forces: Who, why and what for?
By: Nadine Ibrahim
Photos by: Virginie Nguyen
Standing on the peak of one of Gezirat al-Warraq’s trash mountains, one can see beautiful Nile vignettes, the shores of Imbaba and Shubra, and small uninhabited islands that pop in and out of existence with the changing currents.
But, looking in, the island’s problems don’t end with the piles of trash occupying the Nile banks. Poor urban planning and lack of infrastructure have led to a dire health and environment predicament here.
Poor sanitation sewage networks and waste collection, contaminated drinking water, chemical fertilizer runoff and isolation from the mainland are only a few sources of Gezirat al-Warraq’s residents’ deep-seated suffering.
Untreated organic matter causes contamination and infections, and fecal bacteria are also an important indicator of water quality, says Sherif Baha el Din, environmental consultant and board chairman of the organization, Nature Conservation Egypt.
The island’s residents use contaminated Nile water to wash their dishes and swim, while they must depend on other sources for their drinking water. While official numbers boast a 99 percent rate of access to water in Egypt, this does not include access to potable water. Rural water sanitation coverage stands at a devastating four percent.
The problem for Gezirat al-Warraq, however, is not in the substandard treatment techniques, but the evidence that the government water taps distribute water that does not meet the minimum requirements for human consumption. [Continue reading..]