Thursday, August 2, 2012

Two dead in fight in slum area of Cairo around the luxurious Nile City towers

Violence broke out in Cairo's  Boulaq district on Thursday  leaving at least two dead. Witnesses reported that the Central Security Forces (CSF) used teargas in the residential slum area. After a brief lull in fighting during iftar (the fast-breaking meal in Ramadan), gun fire resumed, with reports that bird shot and possibly also live ammunition was used. A young girl died as a result of the gas,  residents said.
The violence broke out when the first victim, Amr al-Bunni, was refused pay he had earned at the towers doing temporary security work. Tower security guards shot the Boulaq resident, witnesses from the nearby slum told Egypt Independent. Boulaq residents smashed the windows of the luxury complex and unidentified people could be seen on top of the towers throwing rocks. Cars were also set ablaze on the Corniche outside the towers. Fire trucks arrived on the scene to put out the fires and have since left.
The tower has previously come under attack from area residents angry over the death of a five-year-old boy on 27 June, when the tower staff reportedly refused to supply water to put out a fire in one of the shacks.
The protests come amid resident's ongoing struggle to keep their homes as both developers and the state seek to buy up land in the neighborhood close to the Nile. The past two months have seen the use of shotguns and petrol bombs in attacks on residents of the area. 

 A recent a short documentary film, Bulaq: Among the Ruins of an Unfinished Revolution, shows the struggle for social justice that the inhabitats of Boulaq have to wage. The twenty-five minute film by Davide Morandini and Fabio Lucchini documents a deteriorating residential district where residents have faced police brutality and forced evictions for decades. Residents speak directly to the camera, sharing their ordeals and personal experiences. Although those voices speak for the specific case of Bulaq, they also reflect a wider struggle by an entire class of citizens the Egyptian government has long disregarded. As a recent Amnesty International report states, the government has used the longstanding Emergency Law to legitimize its repressive policy of forced evictions targeted at populations in areas such as Bulaq. The repeal of the Emergency Law and the demand for social justice, including housing rights, have been cornerstones of the Tahrir movement. Bulaq threads together these many strands, along with providing a rare look into the everyday lives in popular neighborhoods such as this one.

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