Egypt's antiquities ministry honours man who foiled mosque theft

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 4 Jul 2012

Minister of State for Antiquities fetes local man who thwarted theft at Darb Al-Ahmar's historic Inal Al-Yussufi Mosque

Ibrahim and Saad

One month after a failed theft attempt at the Inal Al-Yusufi Mosque in Cairo's historic Darb Al-Ahmar district, the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) has honoured Gamal Saad, the man who thwarted the would-be thieves that had tried to chop off one of the ancient mosque's doorknockers.

"The MSA is obliged to honour this courageous man who rescued a part of his nation's heritage," Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram online. Ibrahim went on to describe Saad as a "great example of a good Egyptian citizen" and "a national hero."

Ibrahim presented Saad with a signed honorary certificate, and will also award him with a monetary token of appreciation pending approval of Egypt's High Committee for Islamic and Coptic Monuments.

Saad says he noticed the thieves while drinking tea on his balcony, located in front of the mosque. At around midnight, he recounts, a car pulled up outside the mosque and four people got out.

"While watching, I realised they were trying to remove the mosque's ancient doorknocker,” he said. "I went to investigate, and when I asked them why they were there and what they were doing, they ran away."

Saad immediately called the police after finding several tools – including a hammer, axe and saw – that the men had left behind. Saad later described the men, who remain at large, to police.

The historic mosque was built by Prince Inal Al-Yusufi in 1392. It represents one of the earliest examples of the attenuated Cairene mosque and madrassa (school), with its distinctive qibla (praying niche) and opposing iwan (arcade).

The mosque's façade boasts a sabil/kuttab (water fountain/Quranic school) decorated with fine wooden decorations. Much of the mosque’s interior ornamentation has since disappeared, but its beautiful stained glass windows continue to impress visitors.

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