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An island of resistance in al-Warraq

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Analysis. On the Nile island of al-Warraq, residents are resisting government efforts to evict them in favor of tourism development projects. Theirs is a unique case of radical mass popular opposition to Egypt’s el-Sisi regime.

written by Pino Dragoni

Topic Middle East and North Africa

March 24, 2019

Tensions are rising between the Egyptian government and the inhabitants of al-Warraq, an island in Cairo whose population has been mobilizing for almost two years against real estate speculation and forced evictions.

On March 13, three locals actively involved in the protests were arrested after being lured off the island into a trap by a phone call from someone who claimed he was a journalist and asked for a meeting. The three are Sayed Mostafa, 51, retired; Ibrahim Shaarawy, 32, a plumber; and Ahmed Gamal, a student. According to sources from the island quoted by Madamasr, during the three days of enforced disappearance that followed the arrest of the three, their families went to ask for information on their whereabouts from the various offices of the security forces, and were instead offered an exchange: “Agree to a deal about the lands of the island and we will free the prisoners.”

The three activists have ended up in the crosshairs of a mega-investigation (case file 488/2018), which is also targeting the dozens of people arrested in the days following the train crash in Cairo in late February, in a series of raids conducted by the authorities in various........

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