Egyptian authorities crack down on Cairo kite flying and trade

Pastime in capital has become more popular amid pandemic but security officials say flyers have died from rooftop falls

A boy perpares to fly a kite on a bridge over Nile River in Cairo, Egypt, June 30, 2020 EPA
A boy perpares to fly a kite on a bridge over Nile River in Cairo, Egypt, June 30, 2020 EPA

Egyptian authorities say they are cracking down on kite flyers, makers and sellers in Cairo for safety and security reasons.

Security officials did not detail how many people had died while flying kites, which has grown hugely in popularity since the coronavirus outbreak, but said children were among them.

The crackdown in Cairo was launched at the weekend. Police detained 16 people who had 70 kites in their possession, the officials said.

Born out of boredom during months of social isolation, the pastime has taken Cairo by storm, with thousands of the colorful kites crowding the city’s evening skies every day.

Kite flying is not new to Cairo but never in living memory have there been so many above the city, home to more than 20 million people.

The hobby has widely spread, with kites been flown from densely populated neighbourhoods, Nile bridges, highways, busy streets and the rooftops of apartment high rises.

It is the latest pastime among Cairo’s working and middle classes, surpassing fishing in the Nile or raising and breeding pigeons on rooftops.

It has drawn youths and men from all ages and backgrounds, and outlived the coronavirus lockdown that was almost completely lifted in June 27.

A politician has called for a ban on kites because they could pose a security risk if fitted with tiny cameras to spy on sensitive installations.

He said as many as 18 children had fallen to their deaths from rooftops while flying kites but the claim was not confirmed by the police.

Kite flying has become so popular in the coastal city of Alexandria that the local governor banned them altogether last week for safety reasons.

Offenders are fined up to 1,000 pounds.

Updated: July 14, 2020 03:05 AM

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