Egypt will demolish historic houseboats with no compensation

 Tuesday, June 28, 2022 

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The Egyptian government has announced that it will evict all residential houseboats on the River Nile by tomorrow, after giving just six days’ notice. A petition calling on organisations preserving historical heritage to help has so far gathered just over 3,500 signatures. More than 30 houseboats part of the Egyptian historic heritage will be demolished with no compensation at all, reads the petition.

The houseboats are not only humans’ homes. Some of these houseboats are historic monuments of contemporary Egypt that are centuries old.

They have been part of the golden age of Egyptian cinema, renowned throughout the Arab world. For months the Egyptian government has been demolishing residential neighbourhoods across Egypt. Critics accuse authorities of evacuating mainly poor residents so that the land can be used for rich investors.

In February authorities evacuated residents from the Al-Jayara, Hosh Al-Ghajar, Al-Sukar and Al-Lemon neighbourhoods in Old Cairo to make way for a tourism, culture and entertainment project.

One month before that the government announced it would demolish 4,500 housing units in the sixth and seventh district of Nasr City, a neighbourhood in Cairo, to build new residential towers.

Residents said they were offered alternative apartments in a poorer area.

In 2020 security forces killed a four-day-old baby girl after attacking residents of Maawa Al-Sayadeen in the northern coastal town of Alexandria with tear gas and batons.

Police also imprisoned 42 protesters who were demonstrating against the government’s decision to demolish their homes and move them to a part of the city where they could not afford the rent.

Locals accused the government of clearing the land so that they could develop it for tourism purposes and so investors and businessmen would invest in it.

In 2017 Warraq Island in Egypt became symbolic of the government’s displacement and gentrification plans after residents came out onto the streets to demonstrate against the demolition of buildings by police and army forces.

Authorities accused the residents of living in unlicensed buildings which were constructed on state-owned land and razed 700 houses.

Critics accused the government of earmarking the land for glitzy new development projects and prime real estate.

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