‘City of the Dead’ faces bullets in Cairo’s main street

Inside the Cairo cemetery of the Dramali happy family are seven ornate marble tombs adorned with flowers adorned with ornate verses of the Koran.

Dramalis, a former member of Egypt’s elite, descended from the Turkish Ottoman Prime Minister whose sons emigrated to Egypt in the 19th century. But now a 150-year-old museum, and part of it a vivid account of the history of Egypt, facing destruction.

Despite being protected by World Heritage UNESCO, authorities are preparing highways to cross the oldest and oldest highway in Cairo to reduce traffic congestion in the notorious 20m capital.

The city’s two largest cemeteries are located north and south from the central village and are known as the City of the Dead. The construction of this new road will involve the removal of thousands of family graves, including well-known Egyptian, literary and political figures. Graves have been in use since the Arab conquest, 14 centuries ago.

“Everyone in my family is devastated by this,” said Wahid Mardenly, a businessman and scion of the Dramali family. “Our whole family is buried here. These are the people who served in Egypt. My grandfather built the first agricultural harbor on the Nile River in Cairo and helped. . . establish a textile business. ”

Egypt is facing a major crisis construction movements led by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former ousted prime minister who was elected a Muslim in a popular resolution in 2013.

The the army has been overseeing a wide range of projects that include bridges, aids, real estate – even the new headquarters. By 2024 $ 70bn will be spent on transportation alone, the ministry of transport said. he said.

Dramali Mausoleum in Cairo

Dramali’s 150-year-old stone is about to be demolished © Heba Saleh / FT

Many businesses respond to real needs after decades of non-profit operations. But others have raised concerns about the loss of heritage or the destruction of previously lost vegetation in Cairo. This process is also known as the process of making rigged elections and not consulting with the public.

Authorities have sometimes responded to people’s concerns. Last year he banned building a flyover that would disrupt the church’s main stadium, in the Genteel area of ​​Heliopolis. But the district had already been rehabilitated by the growing number of roads, new bridges, and the rising tide of greenery in the vicinity of the highways.

Hany Eissa al-Fekky, an engineer who designed the Heliopolis road network and the pedestrian tunnel, said Cairo is an old and crowded city with few options for city planners seeking to reduce traffic congestion.

“Traffic is increasing at an alarming rate in this city, which is why we are trying to expand and build roads and build new axis connecting Cairo with new cities under construction. [outside it]”,” al-Fekky said.

Funeral services for more than 2,000 low-income families have been demolished to make way for the new road, al-Fekky said. He said that this “would be good” for the monuments to be buried.

However, in the 2014 World Bank reports He estimates that traffic congestion in Cairo damages Egypt by 4 percent of the annual losses, and warns that building new roads “will not solve the problem.”

Conservationists also fear that the new road will demolish cemeteries, preparing them for extinction.

Galila al-Kadi, an independent professor of urban planning and author of a book on historical cemeteries in Cairo, says the houses, both written and unwritten, are protected by an agreement with Unesco.

“The whole place is history,” he said. “Now it is the target of the terrorist attacks and much of the wealth will be lost,” he said.

That threat has already happened. Cairo’s history of world heritage is “at its peak,” UNESCO warned last year many graves and relatives’ relatives since the early 20th century had been arrested to build a road leading to the northern cemetery.

The city’s well-known neighborhoods are “frequently damaged by. . . job losses, deterioration and major infrastructure development, “UNESCO added,” could quickly come to a standstill if it did not change if things did not happen quickly “.

Conservationists and families, who have decided to build a new road under the cemetery, have called on the president to save the region, saying its demolition could lead to “the loss of Egyptian history.”

Mohamed Yakan, granddaughter of Adly Yakan Pasha, a prime minister since the 1920s whose house is facing demolition, complained that he did not receive any contact with the government on what might happen, or when.

“It’s all about words. . . In this way we will not oppose the lower court, ”he said. “If any generation removes [the traces] in its ancient mysteries, we shall have no inheritance in the generations to come. ”

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