FILE- Head of the Egyptian Jewish Community Magda Haroun- Egypt Today/ Sami Wahib FILE- Head of the Egyptian Jewish Community Magda Haroun- Egypt Today/ Sami Wahib

Head of Egyptian Jewish community: My father’s tomb was vandalized

Mon, Jul. 16, 2018
CAIRO - 16 July 2018: Head of the Egyptian Jewish community, Magda Haroun, said that the tomb of her father, prominent Jewish lawyer Chehata Haroun, was vandalized.

The tomb is located in the 1200-year-old Jewish cemeteries in Bassatine, Cairo, which is considered the second oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world.

Haroun posted on her Facebook page photos of the vandalized tomb, saying “I spoke. People, help us build a fence. If I were financially capable, I would actually build it myself, brick by brick, to protect the memory of the people buried here."

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Prominent Jewish lawyer Chehata Haroun’s tomb in Bassatine cemetery - Photo courtesy of Magda Haroun’s Facebook page


"Bassatine cemeteries used to span over an area of 145 feddans (one feddan equals about 1.038 acres), but only 27 feddans remained after squatters built their slums on it," she continued.

Haroun told Egypt Today on Sunday that the tomb could have been vandalized by wolves, adding that she has called on the government several times to build a fence around the cemeteries.

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A hole in prominent Jewish lawyer Chehata Haroun’s tomb in Bassatine cemetery - Photo courtesy of Magda Haroun’s Facebook page


“There was a meeting with former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani, and the minister of local development two years ago where I called for building the fence. They promised to do so, but nothing happened,” Haroun said.

“I am not able (financially) to build a fence and appoint guards,” she added.

Cemeteries were squatted by slums, where the people’s condition is miserable and children play around the tombs. “I do not mind to prepare areas for children and create gardens (inside the Bassatine area) where they can play, but I need help to be able to do so as the community’s monthly income does not exceed LE 7,500 ($418.99)," Haroun explained.

The 65-year-old lady said that she will not file any complaint due to the bad conditions of the people living there.

In previous remarks to Egypt Today on allocating money to restore some neglected Jewish Synagogues in Egypt, Haroun said that any money provided would be allocated to building a fence around the cemeteries in Bassatine.

Building slums divided the cemetery into two parts; one part includes only a site -called Mouseily- listed as an antiquity by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, while the rest of the cemetery is not listed.

The unregistered part of the cemetery includes the tomb of Chehata Haroun, Niven Amin, director of Magda Haroun’s office, told Egypt Today on Saturday.

Lawyer Chehata Haroun, also known as Rene Silvera, died in 2001 at the age of 81 in Cairo after a struggle with illness and was buried in Bassatine cemeteries three days after his death, according to the Jewish community’s portal.
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