Egyptian police have arrested 23 protesters as they demonstrated against the destruction of their homes on Al-Warraq Island in Cairo.
In videos online locals could be seen hurling rocks at riot police and the air is full of tear gas.
It's not the occupied lands in Jerusalem or West Bank, and also it's not Kashmir or Myanmar. It's the occupied island of Warraq and those are the innocent unarmed people defending their houses and lands from being taken to be given to the rich businessmen#جزيره_الوراق pic.twitter.com/Nu2FXjC5Az
— Hassan Fatih (@HassanFatih14) August 17, 2022
The island has been at the centre of the Egyptian government’s plans to earmark poor neighbourhoods, demolish them and redesign them into glitzy residential areas and tourist resorts.
Footage shared online shows authorities entering people’s homes and dragging out the residents during forcible evictions.
Social media commentators say the police have stopped the only ferry taking residents to and from the island.
#Egypt's occupation forces (aka police forces) have stopped the only ferry that transports people to and from al-Warraq island.
Residents complain they cannot "go home."
al-Warraq is an island in the Nile that #Sisi's regime plans to sell to UAE investors.#جزيره_الوراق
— 🇺🇸 hatim (@hatimny) August 17, 2022
Several social media users have compared events taking place on Al-Warraq Island to the Israeli occupation of Palestine where evictions are commonplace.
😏 Events similar to the Palestinian-Israeli events take place on Warraq Island between the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people.#Africa #African#Egypt#NoMore#مصر#جزيره_الوراق#قوات_الإحتلال_المصري#جزيرة_الوراق_مصرية#معركة_الوعي_الافريقي pic.twitter.com/NncDmmCbAw
— Mohammed Al-Hawsawi (@musa31_md) August 17, 2022
At the end of July Egypt’s state-run media reported that the State Information Service had released the 17.5 billion Egyptian pound ($880 million) development plans for Al-Warraq Island, which will be renamed Horus.
The plans included eight residential areas, a viewing platform over the River Nile, two harbours and a park.
Egypt’s Housing Ministry announced it had reclaimed 71 per cent of the island and that it now belonged to the state having evicted “illegal squatters.”
Displacement from the island began in 2017, when police stormed residents’ homes under the pretext they were built on state-owned land.
"You demolished the homes of the poor to give the land to the rich"
Residents of the Nile river island of Warraq protest home demolitions as Egyptian police officers storm the island.
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) August 17, 2022
Egypt’s state-run media announced that an Emirati company had plans to develop the island after signing a contract with the Egyptian government in 2013.
Residents demonstrated, adamant that they had legal proof they owned their houses and that their families had lived there for hundreds of years.
People offered compensation said it was far below the market value.
For years the Egyptian authorities have been demolishing residential neighbourhoods in Cairo and across Egypt under the pretext that it was illegally acquired.
In February they evacuated residents from the Al-Jayara, Hosh Al-Ghajar, Al-Sukar and Al-Lemon neighbourhoods in Old Cairo to build a tourism, culture and entertainment project.
One month warlier, authorities demolished the sixth and seventh districts of Nasr City to build new residential towers.
In June news that the Nile’s famous houseboats would be demolished and towed away made international headlines with distraught owners making video appeals online to save the boats.
Authorities impounded the boats claiming they were unlicenced dwellings and offered the owners no compensation.