(February 22, 2019 / JNS) In response to requests from the international Jewish community, Egypt has started eliminating slums near Bassatine Cemetery, in the eastern part of the second-oldest Jewish cemetery on earth, according to those in Cairo and others familiar with the situation.
“Today, the Egyptian government started to clean and to remove the slums in the east part of Bassatine Cemetery. Egypt is defending her Jewish heritage,” the group said in a statement. “Thousands of souls will sleep in peace tonight. Thanks to all how contributed to this achievement.”
The cemetery has been subjected to deterioration and negligence “from countless stolen marble slabs that cover the graves to general abuse by poor Egyptian settlers who built slums,” reported Egyptian Streets.
Additionally, the government removed waste in the cemeteries amid complaints from citizens, said Ahmed Fouad, the deputy governor of Cairo for the southern region.
The cemetery is the only remaining Jewish one left in Cairo and Egypt’s largest.
The American Jewish Committee, which has long called for such development to happen, applauded Egypt for cleaning up the 1,200-year-old burial site.
“Egypt’s commitment to preserve Jewish sites and records is vitally important,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the organization’s director of international Jewish affairs.
The government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi recently announced an initiative to restore Jewish heritage sites throughout the country.