Ramlet Boulaq (Photo: Nada El-Kouny)
Following a two-year struggle between Egyptian authorities and residents of the Ramlet Boulaq district in Cairo, Egypt's Administrative Court has halted a decree by the Cairo governorate seeking to clear the informal housing area.
Ramlet Boulaq is situated in a unique spot across from the Nile river, next to Cairo's lavish Nile Towers buildings.
Egypt's government had previously ordered temporary seizure of the land in October after the government's Informal Settlements Development Fund (ISDF) ruled that housing in the area was 'unfit' for living in.
A deal was struck between the Cairo governorate and the ISDF to develop the area after first clearing it of housing.
Boulaq residents have repeatedly contested the government's decision and lodged a court case in partnership with the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).
The ECESR said in a statement on Wednesday that the court ruling represents a "victory for the residents of Ramlet Boulaq and a push against the injustice that befell them and their families."
Lawyer Mohamed Adel of the ECESR told Ahram Online the halting order is an indicator that the government's seizure decision will be overturned by the court at a later date.
He hopes the government and ISDF will announce development plans that don't include displacing the original residents of the area, whom Mohamed says have been living there for over 100 years, in order to build tourism projects.
Residents of Ramlet Boulaq faced a police crackdown in 2012 after a fight broke out with security stationed at the Nile towers and resident Ahmed Fathi was shot dead in the scuffle. Many others were arrested in the ensuing crackdown, which residents described as extremely violent.
The police said Fathi was shot after he attempted to attack a police officer and take his weapon following an argument he had with him.
Some of the residents blamed the company owning the towers, Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), for being behind the eviction order that was halted by the court, saying they were planning development projects in the area.
The ECESR said the court order was issued at the same time that a series of "security harassments and threats" against residents were taking place, seeking to pressure them to sell their property to a group of businessmen and brokers which the ECESR did not name.
ECESR added that the government has insisted on not providing basic infrastructure for the area and believes that the eviction order was against the constitutional rights of social justice and Egyptian eviction laws.