On Saturday, Zamalek residents took to the streets protesting the declining status of their island
Carrying placards that read “Enough with cafes in Zamalek”, “Protect the remaining greenery” and “Against abuse of public property”, tens of the residents demonstrated by the Cultural Wheel in hopes of getting their voices heard.
One of the most pressing issues protested was the rental of a garden located by the Cultural Wheel and the Zamalek Mosque, one of the few remaining green spaces in Zamalek, to a cafe by the government. “This is a public property by law,” said Soraya El-Dawakhly, “the Zamalek Neighbourhood is not allowed to rent it and use it for commercial gain.”
Residents also protested against the spreading phenomenon of cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhood, which occupy sidewalks illegally. “We are in constant contact with the head of the Zamalek neighbourhood to pressure them into having constant security campaigns against such restaurants and cafes,” said Tawfika Othman, a veteran Zamalek resident.
Zamalek has witnessed an overflow of restaurants and cafes in the last 10 years, turning it into a commercial hub and causing traffic congestion, abuse of sidewalks and the disappearance of the island’s green areas. Protesters are worried that if this continues, the island’s infrastructure may be affected as well.