Egypt’s demolitions crisis is costing Sisi his main support base

By Abir Sorour
Posted on Thursday, 17 February 2022 16:49

Construction work in Cairo
A woman carries bread for her family next to the houses that are being demolished to make way for construction work on a ring road in the district of Maadi, Cairo, Egypt September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The Egyptian Government is demolishing thousands of houses all over the country to build new high rise shopping malls and entertainment centres. However, the building boom is alienating much of the middle and lower classes, for whom having a house marks an important pillar of decent living; take this away, and they stand to become opponents of the regime.

In 2011, the middle and lower classes, which had been alienated by Hosni Mubarak’s regime, staged mass protests that led to the ouster of the president, paving way for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to take over.

Seven years later, Sisi’s government began spearheading a campaign to demolish houses that were built in the last 20 years, citing a lack of legal documents and “[violation of] the state’s public property”. The demolition, which involves use of force – including the military – targets neighbourhoods in lower and middle class areas. So far, thousands of people have been displaced and hundreds of families are at risk of having their homes demolished.

Amid rising inflation rates and price hikes, the government continues its expansion of massive new cities, posh shopping and entertainment centres, and new real estate for the rich. Consequently, will the affected social classes challenge the regime for taking away their homes and how are the demolitions alienating a once supportive segment of the population?