City of the Dead – Cairo, December 2016.

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Called el’arafa by locals, the four mile long Islamic cemetery and necropolis lies below the Mokattam Hills in southeastern Cairo. But it is not only a home for the dead. Half a million or so of the living also inhabit the vast area where they reside among the tombs of their ancestors.

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Children playing in City of the Dead, Cairo (Qarafa, el-Arafa). Cairo, December, 2016

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A certain comfort is thought to be found for those living so close to their deceased ancestors though they are not always treated with respect by outsiders who fear both their perceived morbid desire to reside with the dead and the crime and drug taking that is believed to have increased since  the 25 January Revolution in 2011.

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Dating back to the Seventh century, many of the tombs are more akin to tiny dwellings occasionally surrounded by surprisingly lush ‘gardens’. On the outskirts of some areas concrete apartment blocks have also sprung up. No surprises there though. Egypt’s population of 95 million is rapidly expanding at a staggering rate of 33.3 percent. At least 20 million inhabit Cairo’s metropolitan area where the majority live in abject poverty in extremely crowded conditions so el’arafa offers some kind of replacement for the poor. Its residents now have a few schools, many shops, fruit and vegetable stalls, electricity, hot water, a medical centre, garages, a post office, madrasas, Sufi colleges, and of course, a plethora of mosques.

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(All photography by Tina Bexson)

 

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3 thoughts on “City of the Dead – Cairo, December 2016.

  1. It’s Tuesday morning in Cha Am and some always welcome rain spits and spatters mixing delightfully with the cd of protest songs I’m listening to and I open up my e-mail to find these wonderful photo’s of a world far away.
    I find my self transported, fascinated, angry, sad and happy. So well done Tina Bexson today you’ve impacted positively on someone’s life even though they’re half a world away. Until the next time, which I’m already looking forward to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thanks, Gary.. I love the images that spring to mind with your words: “rain spits and spatters, etc”
      ..and yes, the lives of those residing in el’arafa are pretty sad.. it’s also amazing how resilient the people are.
      Btw, I’m pretty new to wordpress so don’t know if you post pics etc of Cha Am on here, I would try to follow if so.
      Anyway ‘enjoy’ the spitting and spattering rain..

      Like

    • Oh, thanks, Gary..lovely images spring to mind with: “rain spits and spatters etc”.
      And, yes, the lives of those residing in the City of the Dead are pretty sad though it’s equally amazing how resilient the people are. I’m new to wordpress so don’t know if you have a site.. I would follow of so..Anyway enjoy the spitting and spattering/splattering rain in Cha Am..

      Like

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