Chaos in the Caliph's Quarters: Al-Muiz Street in danger

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 28 Aug 2011

The Supreme Council of Antiquities and activists launch a campaign to rescue the archaeologically significant Al-Muiz Street from encroachment

Al-Muiz street after restoration

Al-Muiz Street in Islamic Cairo is now totally transformed. When it was first closed off into a pedestrian-only open-air museum, the architecture imposed a serenity and power. Unfortunately, this is no longer in evidence. Chaos reigns, instead.

The lack of security following Egypt's January 25 Revolution provided peddlers, vendors and grocers opened the path (literally) for them to sell their wares all over the street, often even on the monuments. They use vehicles as a short cut, transforming the open courtyards of the Fatimid and Ottoman mosques into parking lots.

“The atmosphere of the street has changed totally – for the worse,” Ahmed Mahmoud, a bazaar owner at Al-Muiz Street told Ahram Online. He added that vehicles pose huge threats to the monuments lining the streets the run along. Three days ago, a stone block from the Sultan Brqouq mosque fell off while a huge truck passed.

The head of the Islamic monuments sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Mustafa Amin, said the fall of the block was not a result of vibrations caused by the truck and was most probably due to the high level of humidity. “But the vibrations caused by vehicles are really a major threat nonetheless,” he said, suggesting that a police lookout should be installed outside the front court of Al-Hakim Mosque located at the Babul Fotouh entrance gate. “Archaeologists at the street are not equipped to deal with the security issue,” said Amin, adding that the minister of interior promised him a police force.

Following an inspection tour of the SCA’s secretary general Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, the SCA has called on archaeologists, antiquities lovers, activists and all Egyptians to collaborate to stop the chaos.

Activists launched a Facebook group named “Save Al-Muiz Street,” to rescue the street and organises lectures to raise cultural awareness among the locals, emphasising the link between the monuments ad their income, since most working in tourism or tourism-related professions.

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