Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Struggle to Preserve Egypt's Heritage

Protesters in Alexandria demanding protection for the city's heritage.
The campaign to save the Villa Ambron, home to Lawrence Durrell in Alexandria during the Second World War, is not an isolated one. Egypt's heritage, both recent and ancient, is under threat from many directions, including uncontrolled development, the looting that takes place because of political instability, and from damage to the environment.

The Save Alex Campaign.
The efforts of Zahraa Awad have been mentioned elsewhere in this blog; she has also drawn my attention to The Walls of Alex; though in Arabic only, it speaks eloquently through its images of the vandalism done to Alexandria by developers and others.

The Walls of Alex website is run by Dr Mohamed Adel Dessuki who is also the founder of the Save Alexandria campaign which has taken its message to the streets as the photographs in this post illustrate.

The Walls of Alex website banner.
Another front in the campaign has been opened by Egypt Diaries, a website in English, Arabic and Russian, which tracks and publicises abuses to the country's architectural, archaeological and ecological heritage.

Egypt Diaries website banner.
'We were inspired', say the founders of Egypt Diaries, 'by the efforts of young activists here to save our heritage, and the idea came to us that we can share by making the Egypt Diaries website to focus on all those efforts and and try to gain more supporters for the cause.'

Protesters in the streets of Alexandria.
'We are just normal Egyptians who love and care for their country's rich heritage and history and want to contribute and help everybody who is working in protecting and preserving this heritage.'

As Ibrahim Mohamed, one of the founders of Egypt Diaries, told me, 'It's really difficult but we will never give up'.

The Save Alexandria campaign.