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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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  Old Cairo...

Old Cairo

Today we are going on what is billed as a spiritual tour where we visit the oldest section of the city where some of the old churches of Cairo are, including the landmark Citadel.  Egypt is ninety percent Muslim and about ten percent Coptic Christian, with a small scattering of other religions. We visit a very old Christian church, a synagogue and a mosque.

All the religious institutions of Old Cairo are ornate. The synagogue is no longer used but maintained for historical reasons and for tourists to visit. We are not allowed to take photos inside. Many places, such as tombs and museums, do not allow photography as the flash of cameras can fade delicate paint and damage surfaces over time. 

The beautiful and ornate Citadel goes back to medieval times and is where the Muhammad Ali mosque is located.  We learn a bit about Muslim beliefs, which are very strict.  There is a “call to prayer” while we are at the mosque, which is a loud, chanted prayer sung by a mosque leader. 

We all have to remove our shoes to go inside, but women’s heads do not have to be covered in the mosque.  There are no benches inside, and the floor is covered with rugs for worshipers to kneel on. Muslims are expected to pray five times a day for 10 to 15 minutes.  Men go to a mosque, if possible, but it is acceptable to pray in any clean place. 

Business and life in general have adjusted to this religious lifestyle and a place to pray is provided at most workplaces.  Muslims kneel on the floor to pray and place the forehead on the floor.  Some men have brown spots on their forehead made by frequent praying. We noticed a green arrow on the ceiling of our hotel and wondered what it was until we finally figured out it was pointing to Mecca where Muslims face to pray.

Women and men pray in separate areas of the mosque, which we are told is for the protection of women and to prevent them from being accidentally touched by men while people are kneeling in a crowded mosque.  While Egyptian women seem to be making gains in other areas of life, religion appears to me to still be a very male-dominated part of the society.

The next morning is spent visiting the Cairo Museum where most of the artifacts from the pyramids are displayed.  While the museum is interesting, it is obviously old and outdated.  They are currently building a new museum closer to the pyramids which will house some of the numerous exhibits that are now in storage.  There is not nearly enough space to display all the artifacts of Egypt and the tired old museum is rather sad to see after having seen the impressive exhibits of Egyptian artifacts in the British Museum several years ago.

There are numerous large statues of black granite as well as the King Tut display, which takes half of the second floor.  The gold funeral mask of Tut is large and impressive and looks just like the pictures and  numerous reproductions, except this is the real thing.  Many of the coffins and boxes in which Tut was buried are gilded with gold. The jewelry is beautiful in design and the pieces are numerous beyond imagination.  “No one could wear this much jewelry,” I told my sister. “It isn’t meant to be worn in this life,” she replied.

Tutankhamun was not an important king as Egyptian kings go, but his tomb is important because it was never discovered or desecrated by tomb robbers before modern times. By today’s standards the gold from Tut’s tomb is worth millions of dollars, but in historic terms the value cannot be measured we are told. 

While this is all very interesting, my feet are suffering from the hard marble floors and I will have a severe case of aching museum feet afterwards.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

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