A leading Muslim group denies the Cairo municipality’s request to relocate graves in the crowded city.
Following the success of Al-Azhar park in Cairo, also known as the city’s lungs, the municipality looked to cemeteries as possible venues to develop more community parks in Egypt’s crowded capital. But Dar Al-Ifta, the research institute tasked with making decisions that accord with Islamic law, gave the thumbs down.
Even if families grant permission to have their deceased relocated, historical and religious leaders will have to stay put. Given Cairo’s dreadful pollution and dearth of anything green enough to suck it up, it could use a few more carbon sinks, but the municipality will have to set their green sights somewhere else.
Gamal Abd Al-Gawad, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, told The Media Line that the issue has more cultural than political roots. Grave owners and relatives are more concerned to prevent relocation than religious leaders.
An urban planner with Ein-Shams University in Cairo, Muhammad Ibrahim worries that real-estate moguls will usurp the territory for themselves and develop even more crippling infrastructure.
But Dar Al-Ifta, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, ruled that preserving graves of historical figures must take precedence. The paper reports:
Muslims have safeguarded the graves and remains of the pharaohs and never attempted to obliterate or remove them even though they were not Muslim, a statement by Dar Al-Ifta read. All the more so we should safeguard the graves of our nation’s glorious figures.
Al-Azhar park is the only genuine “green” reprieve for the city’s 17 million residents, who otherwise cope with the kind of noise, pollution, and rubbish that defies imagination. Developed by the Aga Khan Foundation and a former refuse dump, the 74 acre “green space” also generates income and jobs.
More on Cairo’s pollution, smog, and urban parks:
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