The ceety played a role in the machinations for control o the Fatimid vizierate: first in 1164, when Shirkuh wis besieged in the ceety bi the combined forces o Shiwar an Amalric I o Jerusalem for three months; then again in 1168 when the ceety wis assaultit again bi Amalric's airmy, who teuk the ceety efter three days on November 4 an indiscriminately killed the inhabitants. This atrocity angered the Coptic Egyptians, who haed seen the Crusaders as deliverers but haed suffered as muckle as the Muslim inhabitants o Bilbeis. The Copts endit their support o the Crusaders an unitit wi their non-Christian neighbors against the foreigners. (See Crusader invasion o Egyp.)
The ceety is sma in size but densely populatit, wi ower 300,000 residents. It an aa hooses the Egyptian Air Force Academy complex, which contains the ceety's lairgest public schuil in Al-Zafer. It an aa haes the first Mosque built in North Africae.