Egypt's Rubbish People

Channel 4

Unreported World

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Often filming secretly, Reporter Evan Williams and producer James Brabazon begin a new series in the slums of Cairo. Although Egypt purports to be a secular state, Coptic Christians are marginalised and discriminated against.

Some 100,000 Christians live in the Zebeline slum, collecting and recycling Cairo's rubbish by hand. The stench is overpowering. Rats flourish and pigs are reared on the detritus. The Egyptian Government is embarrassed that anyone should be seen to live like this, and yet - so widespread is anti-Christian discrimination - that even affluent Christians choose to live in the ghetto.

Almost all of Cairo's Christian community live in ghettos. Collectively known as the Zabaleen (rubbish collectors), these people eek out a living in rubbish, fending off rats and foraging for food, while trying to keep sanitation levels at a habitable high.

The Egyptian government doesn't 'recognise' Christianity as a religion. Therefore these people cannot obtain the ID cards necessary for employment. They are also forced, quite literally, underground to worship, in beautifully excavated cave-churches, where they practice an extreme sort of Evangelicism.

These are activities which the government isn't keen on allowing Williams to report, and he is quickly presented with a police escort. It's only when he slips away from them that the perturbing truths start to trickle out. Death threats, illegal newspapers, torture: it's no surprise that these people hope that Unreported World will publicise their plight. He tracks down the parents of a teenage girl who was jumped by a gang of Muslims while walking home from church. She was forced into an arranged Muslim marriage and hasn't been seen since; nor have hundreds more Christians arrested on trumped up charges of 'prostitution' and 'illegal activities'.

"However much television is criticised for dumbing down, Channel 4 still has Unreported World - …long may [it]last"
- The Times

- The Sunday Times

"Disquieting .. reveals increasing intolerance and Islamisation within Egypt's security services."
- The Guardian

"Death threats, illegal newspapers, torture: it's no surprise that these people hope that Unreported World will publicise their plight. A tourist board's nightmare with a twist that even its reporter didn't anticipate"
-The Observer

"Excellent - a welcome return for the foreign affairs series"
- The Telegraph

First Broadcast

January 11, 2008



Producer Director

James Brabazon


Evan Williams

Executive Producer

Eamonn Matthews


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