PARIS (May. 22)
Several companies and individuals have started constructing villas and other housing projects on the site of Cairo’s Jewish cemetery at Bassatine. A Jewish tourist who recently visited Egypt told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that tombstones have been torn out and graves desecrated as the construction work goes on. In several cases the tombstones have been used for the project. Several of the people responsible for the project appear to be Egyptian army officers, the eyewitness said.
Preliminary work on the project started two years ago but the local Jewish community appealed at the time to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to have it stopped. Sadat, the witness said local Jews told her, personally intervened and the construction stopped.
Three months ago, however, work was renewed and is now in progress. The local community, the eyewitness said, has given up all hope and no longer plans to ask for Sadat’s intervention. The Basatine Cemetery is the main burial ground for Egypt’s Jews and is more than 100 years old.