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How Egypt is trying to stop looting at ancient mosques

Islamic archaeological monuments are constantly subjected to looting, and the Ministry of State for Antiquities has responded by ordering the contents of an ancient mosque be transferred to the ministry’s warehouses.
Muslim men attend an evening prayer called "Tarawih", during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at the Al-Rifai Mosque in the old Islamic area of Cairo, Egypt July 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RTX2JFE9
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CAIRO — In a bid to preserve old mosques and protect them from being looted, the Standing Committee of Islamic and Coptic Monuments, affiliated with the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities, decided Jan. 4 to move old mosque artifacts to the ministry's warehouses. Smaller items, such as niches, carpets and chairs, are taking priority as they are easier to steal.

The decision comes after six niches were stolen recently from Al-Rifai Mosque in Cairo's Citadel Square. On Jan. 1, the Ministry of Antiquities announced the disappearance of six out of 15 niches from the burial chamber of King Fuad I and Princess Ferial, the descendants of the Muhammad Ali dynasty. The niches, which date back to 1911, are made of sanded glass emblazoned with the seal of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. They also bear a Quranic verse in Mamluk characters.

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