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Saturday, 5 April 2008

Funerals in Cairo

A question concerning my friends out here is what to do with me in the event of my demise.

On the assumption that I don't have an insurance policy that covers repatriation of my body to the UK, and on the assumption that my family in the UK won't want to fork out the necessary (cost to be entered when I find out what it is - something like $13000 - $20000 is what I have been able to gather), and following an incident where I got sucked into a pile of quicksand not far from the pyramids... the subject arose in conversation.

My closest friends here are all muslim - I don't know what I am - probably default Anglican Christian until I've pondered it all out - and out here, families tend to have a family plot, and burials normally take place within 24 hours of death.

So, anyway, my good friend did some ferreting out for me and here's what she found out in relation to 6th October City, Giza (where I live) ...

Went to the cemetery today as we were passing and asked about Non Moslem burials.
This is what we found out.

6th October Cemetery has a christian area right up at the very back.

If a Christian dies here and they have no plot as such, they can buy one for around 40000le. This is the average price for a family plot ( like little house) which houses about 10 members of the family.
They are built differently to moslem ones.

The typical family one is a little building with an entrance and gate up some starirs which leads 2 ways to a street level basement although it is on ground level if you understand. To the side of the steps going up to the gate are 2 little metal 2 foot square doors with crosses on them and a padlock. The dead person can either go through one of these doors to the cell structure, or up the stairs and then go inside and walk back down stairs to ground level to the cell.
Christians are buried in their own wooden coffin and they remain there. This coffin is laid on the sand ( not under it) alongside any other family members, the door locked and left there. Over time as it it gets crowded the bones are scooped up and the rotted coffins are burned and the bones are all put together into a new coffin and the floor cleared to make way for other members.

There are also little church type structures that ONLY house the bodies of priests in the same format.

There are also little church type houses that are owned by the different types of churches and they are used by the church to bury 'poor' members who have no plot. To go there you HAVE to be a member of that particular denomination.

There are then little structures they call eyes!!, this is what the man said??

These are around 12000le to buy. These are for individual Christian burials. Bit like a plot in a western cemetery but in a little brick house type of affair.

All of them need to be allowed to bury a death certificate from the hospital and another certificate from the Health Dept?? we deduced this was the 6th october Government office where you register everything etc....

If you are Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Baptist whatever you will be housed in their own church type one if you have none of your own and are poor, but must be known to the church.

Not sure about buying them? Maybe have to pay cash or a mortgage type affair? Didnt find that bit out sorry.


Anyway, a couple of us living out here without families have briefly discussed the idea of buying a plot between us...

I have also been informed that there is a foreigner cemetery somewhere in Cairo.


And by the by - if you are a foreign woman (esp Non Muslim) married to a Muslim man then you need to be very clear on the inheritance laws which operate out here in the event of his demise, especially if you don't have the full marriage but an orfi or the other one 'missing a stamp'. Shan't blog them as I'm not in full knowledge of them, but you need to check it out!

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