Ministerial committee to safeguard Egyptian Islamic heritage
Al-Azhar mosque - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: A ministerial committee has been formed to develop a mutual strategy in the hope of safeguarding Egypt’s Islamic heritage, said Gamal Mostafa, said Director General of the archaeological sites of Al-Sultan Hassan and al-Rifaai mosques.

“The committee agreed to found a joint fund to complete stalled renovation projects in many mosques and other Islamic sites,” Mostafa told The Cairo Post Sunday.

The committee aims to tackle the bureaucracy and obstacles that inhibit the completion of Islamic heritage development projects, he added.

“Although the Ministry of Religious Endowment has the administrative authority to appoint breaches at mosques and monitoring, evaluating and directing the religious discourse, it is unrelated to maintenance and renovation works required for many ancient Islamic complexes,” professor of Islamic architecture at Minya University Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post Sunday.

During the past 10 years, several development projects have been launched to protect Egyptian mosques, particularly those in Islamic Cairo, but due to the lack of funding, lack of coordination among stakeholders and the security lapse occurred following the January 25 Revolution, most of these projects were discontinued, he added.

The Awqaf Ministry has been criticized over the increase of thefts in mosques that are run under its auspices. In 2008, inlaid wood panels were stolen from the mosque of Ghanim al-Bahlawan while a year later thieves were arrested red-handed stealing an ironwork window from the Sabil Kuttab of Rokaya Dudu nearby Khan el Khalili market, Dr Magda el-Shoubky, Secretary-General of the Museum of Islamic Art told The Cairo Post Sunday.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) blamed the Ministry of Awqaf for the incidents, stating that the SCA is entitled to restore mosques only while securing the mosques is the Awqaf ministry’s responsibility, he added.

The SCA said that it is responsible for the safeguarding and maintenance of Pharaonic archaeological sites only.

In appreciation of the role played by Al-Azhar in promoting the values of Islam, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia pledged in June to cover the finances of the stumble renovation work at the 1,000 year-old Al-Azhar mosque.



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