Residents of Madinet Al-Salam protested on Monday outside the Cairo Governorate building demanding alternative housing after their shacks were allegedly set on fire by police officers.
Residents claim the police raided Madinet Al-Salam over two weeks ago in retaliation for the murder of a policeman at the hands of a drug dealer.
Residents whose shacks were burned gathered outside the governorate building. Karim Shawqy, mobilisation coordinator at the Social Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), said the deputy Cairo governor scheduled a meeting with the residents on Saturday.
“We went with the residents and waited for him for hours,” Shawqy said. “He didn’t come in the end.”
The residents delegated some of them to meet with the governor’s secretary during the protest on Monday. Om-Nagat, one of the protesters whose home was destroyed, said the secretary claimed to hear nothing about their demands before. He asked them to meet him on Thursday.
Om-Nagat said the protesting residents were negotiating possible escalation methods. “We will block all the roads to Cairo,” Om-Nagat said. She stated that they will coordinate with [our people] nationwide to block the Cairo-Ismailia road, the Cairo-Suez Road, the Cairo-South Sinai road and the Cairo-Belbees road. “They have left us no other option; they’re closing all the doors in our way.”
“The police burnt my home and sent me to the streets,” Om Nagat said. “I had nothing to do with the drug dealers. Why punish me for a crime I did not commit?”
Trouble started at Madinet Al-Salam on 30 March when a policeman arrested a drug dealer from the area. Before exiting the area, the policeman was shot and killed by another drug dealer.
“The police decided to take its revenge,” said Shawqy. “They came with around 200 thugs and at least 15 police cars.”
The forces allegedly burnt down the shacks, mostly inhabited by widowed women or women whose husbands are serving time in jail, killed the women’s stock of cattle and poultry and sexually assaulted five women, Shawqy claimed. They also allegedly beat a 65-year-old man to death, decapitating him “in a barbaric way”. They then roamed around the area with his corpse.
The residents filed a report to the prosecutor general regarding the alleged murder. The Ministry of Interior was not available for comment.
The residents of Madinet Al-Salam were originally wanderers who travelled from one area to another before they settled down to live in shacks near a pile of garbage. They lived on picking the garbage and feeding the remains to their cattle and poultry, Shawqy said. Madinet Al-Salam is a slum area also known for housing drug dealers.