CAIRO: Residents of the island of El-Qorsaya have vowed to continue their campaign to resist eviction from their homes despite reports published by the state-owned Al Ahram newspaper that plans to build a tourist complex on the island have been scrapped.
According to the report, which appeared on the newspaper’s front page on Wednesday and which is entitled “Government cancels plans for tourist project on El-Qorsaya, upholds residents’ rights, the Agricultural and Irrigation Committee of the People’s Assembly together with government representatives had decided to cancel plans for the construction of a tourist complex.
The report states that the decision was made after MP Mohamed Aboul Enein and Azab Mostafa made urgent appeals to the Committee about islanders’ fears that they would be expelled from their land.
The article claimed that the government has succeeded in “presenting a model of democracy for the protection of citizens’ rights.
Artist and El-Qorsaya resident Mohamed Abla is more circumspect.
He told Daily News Egypt, “This report is simply false. This PA committee doesn’t have the authority to make these sorts of decisions, it can only make recommendations.
He also questioned why the decision had not been reported in any other newspapers, and said that the campaign to save the island would continue until the report is verified.
“The government previously denied that it had plans to build a tourist complex on the island, but yet here it is announcing that these plans which supposedly never existed have been cancelled, said Abla.
Approximately 5,000 people live on El-Qorsaya in Giza. They have been living under the threat of eviction for months, and in November army-protected bulldozers arrived on the island and began construction work for a rumored tourist complex, park, or golf course.
The islanders responded by launching a media campaign. On New Year’s Eve they held a party featuring musical performances by oud group Eskenderella and singer Wagih Aziz.
Abla told Daily News Egypt that the islanders’ campaign, centered around three key demands, remains unchanged. “We have three demands of the government; that they remove troops from the island, stop construction work and legalize the island’s status.
“The government might have announced that it has cancelled plans for a tourist complex but it hasn’t met any of these demands. Our campaign will continue.