Egypt Battle over the Nile | MadaMasr
A short ferryboat ride from the area of Warraq takes you to the southern end of the island, which consists of batches of agricultural land and scattered houses, which bear a striking resemblance to a village in the Nile Delta or Egypt’s south. Deeper in, the island turns into a typical Cairo informal neighborhood with tightly stacked buildings and narrow streets that are maneuvered by motorcycles and tuktuks.
Much like Cairo’s informal areas, Warraq island and other Nile islands were first populated by migrants from other governorates who settled there and started to manage services on their own, until the state acknowledged them and started introducing official services.
But the lives of residents of Warraq island, one of dozens of inhabited islands that dot the Nile’s span across Egypt, were disturbed earlier in June, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi identified their imperfect haven as his next target in the ongoing large-scale national campaign to retrieve illegally occupied state land.
On Sunday, the state attempted to hit its target. Clashes erupted between police and residents of Warraq island on Sunday, as the state attempted to demolish buildings on the island. Police forces fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered to contest the demolition, and, in the ensuing melee, one resident was killed and 19 injured, according to the Health Ministry, while the Ministry of Interior says that 31 of its officers were wounded.
The clashes have temporarily stayed the demolition attempts.
In the conference on land reclamation held in June that first presaged a change for Warraq, the government announced that it had retrieved 118 million square meters of state land in a few weeks, an area constituting 69 percent of total land seized. Amid the announcement of success, Sisi signaled that the state would turn its attention to Nile islands, alluding to Warraq island specifically.