As is typical in the days preceding the month of Ramadan, Cairo’s streets have become extremely congested amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which robbed the Egyptians, last year of the opportunity to practice their rituals.
One of the Egyptian neighborhoods that are especially enjoying the Ramadan spirit is Shubra, an ancient quarter in which a large Christian community resides and has lived in harmony with the Muslim community there for decades. One can feel the Ramadan festivities there, on the storefronts with their colorful decorations and with Ramadan lanterns. What’s particularly striking about this neighborhood, however, is the large cross enclosed within a crescent, which was erected this year as an indication of the harmonious coexistence between Christians and Muslims of Shubra.
Many Christians in the area even helped with the Ramadan decorations, a gesture that was appreciated by the Muslim community, which is trying to alleviate its anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic by enjoying the holy month’s celebrations.
“Whoever wants to see Egypt must come to the Shubra neighborhood,” says Amir Ghattas, a Christian shop owner that makes one of the largest decorative lanterns on Al-Tarah Street, one of the most famous streets in the Shubra neighborhood. He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “I erected the largest Christmas tree in Egypt during the 2021 New Year's celebrations, and I also decided this year to make the largest Ramadan lantern in Egypt. The lantern will measure 17 meters in height and 6 meters in width, which will hopefully draw a smile on everyone’s face, whether Muslims or Christians. It seems to be already working, as people from nearby neighborhoods are flocking our neighborhood to see the lantern.”
The Ramadan festivities have swept across Cairo’s other neighborhoods as well, with decorations and lanterns there reflecting the spirit of the holy month. Also heavily present in these neighborhoods are tents stacked with merchandise, especially dates, nuts, and dried fruits.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands have visited these tents to shop and stack up during the month of Ramadan, a month that usually sees higher consumption rates than other months.