In the city of the dead the living dwell beside the departed. Cairo’s vast necropolis, which dates back to the seventh century, sprawls over a thousand hectares, its narrow, winding streets lined with the ornate mausoleums of Mamluk sultans and 20th-century revolutionaries. But it houses a breathing community, too: it is home to perhaps as many as half a million Egyptians.
Both the living and the dead are under threat. An Egyptian court is soon to decide whether the government can demolish parts of the necropolis to make way for a motorway bridge that it says will reduce congestion in a busy area. Tombs and houses began to be bulldozed in 2020, exhuming the dead and evicting the living. The government argued that the unesco world heritage site was in fact an unsafe slum. It seems determined to push ahead. In the City of the Dead, officials have been spraying the word izala (“demolish”) with garish paint on tombs slated for destruction.
Source: The Economist