Cairo authorities deny demolishing tomb of legendary Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawqi

Amr Kandil , Tuesday 29 Aug 2023

Cairene authorities denied on Tuesday demolishing the tomb belonging to legendary Egyptian poet laureate Ahmed Shawqi (1868-1932), nicknamed the Prince of Poets, after photos depicting debris at his tomb in Historic Cairo sparked uproar on social media.

The site of the grave of legendary Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawqi. Cairo governorate


The Cairo governorate released photographs dated 29 August, showing the intact tomb. 

Photo showing the tomb in a good condition. Credit: Cairo governorate

Images of debris around Shawqi’s tomb have been widely shared on social media, accompanied by verses from one of his iconic poems: "If I were to be kept busy by heaven, my soul would long for it (my country)." 

Photo showing debris at the site of the tomb. Credit: Mohamed Abdel Malek/Facebook

The governorate also rejected reports that they had demolished the grave belonging to Abu Said Othman Al-Qutbi (also known as Warsh), a significant figure in Egypt's history of Quranic recitation, who passed away in 812 and is also buried in Historic Cairo.

Historic Cairo has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site since 1979. It contains over 500 listed historic buildings as well as many historic graves, some more than 1,000-years-old, of renowned and ordinary Egyptians alike.

The bodies of influential writers Taha Hussein, Hafez Ibrahim and Yehia Haqi all lie in the area.

Historic Cairo development plan

The government has been working over the past years on a development plan to save Historic Cairo.

The area has deteriorated due to the construction of slums and repeated fires over the years, according to Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

It is also threatened by the spread of unregulated markets, as well as severe damage to buildings and cemeteries caused by groundwater and traffic congestion.

The development plan includes renovation of historic buildings and the implementation of a comprehensive road network plan as well as the relocation of graves.

In June, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered the establishment of a cemetery named “the Cemetery of the Immortals” in a distinguished location to be a new home for the remains of iconic Egyptians whose current tombs need to be relocated.

The president also directed the government to form a committee, headed by the prime minister, which would study development necessities behind the transfer of tombs in the historic neighbourhoods of Sayeda Nafisa and Imam Shafii.

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