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Footage shows Egypt police dragging Warraq Islanders out of homes as development plans move forward

Egyptian police have arrested 23 protesters as they demonstrated against the destruction of their homes on Al-Warraq Island in Cairo.

August 17, 2022 at 11:16 am

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.

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.

Several social media users have compared events taking place on Al-Warraq Island to the Israeli occupation of Palestine where evictions are commonplace.

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.

READ: Reports: Five died inside Egyptian detention centres within two weeks since July

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.

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.

READ: Owners distraught as historic Nile houseboats are removed