Architecture professors join fight to save Cairo’s historic cemeteries

El-Kadi believes the government’s plan represents an attack on the map published by Unesco in 1979, which demarcates the boundaries of historic Cairo.

“There is an insistence on falsifying maps approved by international organizations, and the scope of the final preservation of historic Cairo has not yet been approved,” she said.

In June, Unesco praised the Egyptian government for organizing meetings with experts and architects to solicit their views. At the time, Mostafa Madbouly, the Egyptian Prime Minister, had promised to respect the opinions of experts and to respect all heritage sites. “The demolitions will be completely stopped and no historic buildings will be removed,” Madbouly said.

In the past three months, however, “the government has ignored these commitments and resumed work,” El-Kadi said. He informed the owners of graves in historic cemeteries of the removal operations, she said, “and called on them to seek alternative sites to transport the remains of their dead.”

Campaign members are planning a symposium and documentary exhibit of images from threatened cemeteries in January, El-Kadi said. They are also working to “negotiate with the decision-makers, to try to stop the demolition procedures before going to court”.

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While the campaign includes several public figures and a few architecture professors, El-Kadi said other professors and architects in general were reluctant to participate due to their work with the government and their concern to execute projects. .

“Cairo’s architectural heritage is threatened due to the struggle for space,” she said. The land of historic Cairo cemeteries has great commercial value and “the principle of real estate investment dominates investment trends in Egypt,” she added.

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