Christmas market opens in Algerian capital

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A man dressed as Santa Claus is pictured at a Christmas market in Algiers, Algeria December 15, 2017. (Reuters)
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A woman takes a selfie with a man dressed as Santa Claus at a Christmas market in Algiers, Algeria December 15, 2017. (Reuters)
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A man dressed as Santa Claus is pictured at a Christmas market in Algiers, Algeria December 15, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Christmas market opens in Algerian capital

ALGIERS: A small Christmas market has opened in Algeria’s capital, catering to a rising number of Christian African migrants as well as diplomats and locals in the overwhelmingly Muslim country.
Around 99 percent of Algeria’s population is Sunni Muslim but the number of Christians has been rising due to an influx of migrants from sub-Saharan countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
The market, organized by the Caritas charity, is also a sign of stable security in a country that has rebounded from a decade of Islamist militant violence during which 200,000 people died.
Diplomats used to hunker down in fortified embassies, rarely venturing out, but now live alongside Algerians in residential quarters. No militant attack has been reported in Algiers for more than 10 years.
Caritas staged a similar Christmas market last year but kept it low profile. This year it advertised the market in advance, calling for a “living together” between Christians and Muslims.
No official figure is available for the number of African migrants, but some estimates put it at around 100,000.
“It is not about making money, but rather about using the money to help the most vulnerable, whether Algerians, African migrants or Syrians,” Caritas Algeria director Maurice Pilloud said.
Veiled Muslim women mix with foreigners at the market in Algiers’ El Biar district, where honey, chocolate, cakes, jewelry and trinkets are sold. Many donations came from Muslims, said Pilloud.
The market offers the chance for young people to make a contribution to society in a political system where the ruling party has dominated all aspects of the oil-producing North African state since independence in 1962.
“Charitable work remains most attractive for a majority of young Algerians who shun political action because it doesn’t bring change,” said Cherif Lounes, 47, who was visting the market along with his mother.
“We need 50 Caritas associations in Algeria to help the vulnerable, whether Algerians or migrants,” added Saida, his 79-year-old mother.


Mystery Egypt sarcophagus found not to house Alexander the Great’s remains

Mostafa Wazir, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, inspects the site of the newly discovered giant black sarcophagus in Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria, Egypt July 19, 2018 in this handout photo courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Mystery Egypt sarcophagus found not to house Alexander the Great’s remains

  • The unmarked tomb in Alexandria did not likely belong to any other notable ruler in the Ptolemaic period (332 BC-30 BC) associated with Alexander the Great, or the subsequent Roman era
  • The location of the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC in Babylon, remains a mystery

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: Egyptian archaeologists on Thursday dashed local hopes that a newly discovered ancient sarcophagus might contain the remains of Alexander the Great, finding instead the mummies of what appeared to be a family of three.
Workmen inadvertently unearthed the approximately 2,000-year-old black granite sealed sarcophagus this month during the construction of an apartment building in the historic Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
The 30-ton coffin is the largest yet found in Alexandria, prompting a swirl of theories in local and international media that it may be the resting place of the ancient Greek ruler who in 331 BC founded the city that still bears his name.
Egypt’s antiquities ministry had vigorously dismissed the chances of finding Alexander’s remains inside the 30-ton sarcophagus and on Thursday its skepticism was vindicated.
“We found the bones of three people, in what looks like a family burial... Unfortunately the mummies inside were not in the best condition and only the bones remain,” Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters at the site.
Waziri said some of the remains had disintegrated because sewage water from a nearby building had leaked into the sarcophagus through a small crack in one of the sides.
The location of the remains of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 BC in Babylon, remains a mystery.
The sarcophagus in Alexandria is the latest of a series of interesting archaeological finds this year in Egypt that include a 4,400-year-old tomb in Giza and an ancient necropolis in Minya, south of Cairo.
The unmarked tomb in Alexandria did not likely belong to any other notable ruler in the Ptolemaic period (332 BC-30 BC) associated with Alexander the Great, or the subsequent Roman era, Waziri said.
The prospect of opening the long-sealed sarcophagus had stirred fears in Egyptian media that it could unleash a 1,000-year curse.
“We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness, said Waziri.
“I was the first to put my whole head inside the sarcophagus... and here I stand before you ... I am fine.”