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Police foil theft at Cairo's Al-Refaai mosque

Tourism and Antiquities police thwart lamp theft at Al-Refaai mosque near Cairo's Citadel

Nevine El-Aref , Saturday 11 Feb 2012
Al refaai mosque
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Police patrolling Cairo's Citadel area discovered thieves trying to escape from the Al-Refaai mosque with boxes containing four large Islamic lamps.

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced that officers from the Tourism and Antiquities police had caught the thieves red handed as they attempted to leave the mosque through the backyard.

The Al-Refaai mosque is located in the square adjacent to the Salaheddin citadel.

The mosque was constructed in two phases between 1869 and 1912. It was originally commissioned by Lady Khushiar Hanim, mother of the 19th century Khedive Ismail, to extend and replace the pre-existing mediaeval zawiya (small mosque) of Ahmed Al-Refaai. She founded the mosque in 1869, but construction was stopped in 1880. Construction resumed in 1905 and the mosque was finished in 1911.

The building itself is a melange of styles taken primarily from the Mamluk era, including its dome and minaret. The building contains a large prayer hall as well as the shrines of Al-Rifaai and two other local saints, Ali Abi-Shubbak and Yahya Al-Ansari.

The mosque is the resting place of Khushyar Hanim and her son Ismail Pasha, as well as numerous other members of Egypt's royal family, including King Farouk – Egypt's last reigning king – whose body was interred there after his death in Rome in 1965. The mosque served briefly as the resting place of Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, who died in exile after World War II. Part of the burial chamber is currently occupied by Reza Shah's son Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who died in Cairo in 1980.

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