CAIRO: Silence dawned on the Sayeda Zeinab district yesterday, the first day of annual celebration of the birth of Sayeda Zeinab, the prophet’s granddaughter. The typical sight of colorful swings, game stands, sweet and gift vendors were no where to be seen.
Security forces continued to send away visitors and pull down tents that were previously set after a decision by Cairo Governor Abdel-Azim Wazeer on Sunday banned the annual celebration (or moulid) upon recommendation from The High Committee for Fighting Swine Flu.
Police assaulted and arrested some celebrators who had found shelter in the thin alleys that surround the shrine of Sayeda Zeinab, confiscating their mats and gas cylinders, according to witnesses.
Residents of Sayeda Zeinab and visitors expressed their objection to the governor’s decision, vowing that they will not abide by it.
There is a lot of negativity that surrounds the moulid, admitted Sameh Ghorab, a resident of the area, however there remains a rich tradition that is difficult to abandon.
“There is no logical explanation for banning it. If they want to ban the moulid because of the crowd it attracts then they should shut down the metro, crowded buses and trains. Crowds exist everywhere all the time so what’s the use in banning it only for one day, he added.
According to Reda Abdel Moaty, a supermarket owner in the neighborhood, what the moulid needs is a little bit of organization not a complete ban.
“This decision does not concern us, we’re going to have the moulid and people will set up. Some people won’t know about the decision and even if they know, they will still flock to the area. It’s a tradition that’s impossible to obliterate, said Zeinhom Abdel Fatah, another neighborhood resident.
A few days before the beginning of the moulid, tents mushroom in the thin alleys surrounding the mosque as people prepare to host poor celebrators in what is referred to as “the service.
Zeinhom Mohamed Hassan has been hopping from one moulid to the other with his wife and four kids serving celebrators, stopping at Al Sayed Nafisa, Al Sayeda Fatma and Al Sayed Zein Al Abideen till they finally settled in a thin alley next to Al Sayeda Zeinab’s shrine a month ago.
Both his father and grandfather were “servers at moulids, a service they give for free to earn thawab. They follow to the Refa’ia Tareeqah.
Hassan came from Asyut with his extended family knowing that other tents have been torn down by authorities. As they were mapping out their “serving corner, Hassan said the space they are occupying belongs to a relative and is not a public street, as opposed to where other tents were forced down.
“No one can cancel moulid Al Sayeda, he swore.
According to Masoud Zahry, the government was unable to stop moulid Al Hussein from taking place last year after the Azhar bombings. He thinks this will likely be the case this time around.
“The moulid to us is more important than Eid (religious feasts), said Mohamed Al Husaainy Mohamed, a young resident of the area. “It’s where we meet our friends and have fun. Fathy Shakr, a resident of the area who owns a baker, said that the residents of the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood have gotten used to the moulid with both its good sides and bad sides, adding that some of youth claim parts of the streets as their own, which they later rent to vendors coming from the governorates for LE 20-300.