In its plenary session, the Egyptian parliament finally approved the amendment of some provisions of Law No. 10 of 1990 regarding the “expropriation of real estate for the public benefit.” Amendments aim to determine the public benefit by decree of the President of the Republic. It also aims to determine the value of the initial compensation for the takeover procedures to complete the road and bridge projects underway. The law’s approval came in light of previous objections to its provisions and amid the concerns of citizens about their real estate properties, especially as it came in conjunction with the demolition of many houses and mosques to create the Mahmudiyah Axis. For the Mahmudiyah Axis to be carried out by the armed forces, they have demolished and removed many mosques and buildings in Alexandria and Beheira. There is also an unresolved crisis for several years related to Warraq Island in Giza Governorate, which the government intends to evacuate of its residents to establish investment projects.
The law’s amendment stipulated that “compensation is estimated by a committee formed in every governorate, by a decision of the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation.” Committees “headed by a representative of the Survey Authority, with the membership of representatives from the Directorate of Agriculture, the Directorate of Housing, and the Directorate of Real Estate Taxes.” The compensation is estimated according to the prices prevailing at the time of the public benefit decision, plus 20 per cent of the estimated value. The entity requesting the expropriation shall deposit the full amount of compensation within a period not exceeding three months from the date of the decision, in an account that generates revenue with a government bank, for the party’s benefit in charge of the expropriation procedures. Suppose the entity is requesting the expropriation of property delays in depositing the compensation amount on the specified date. In that case, this authority shall pay additional compensation for the delay period at the interest rate announced by the Central Bank.
Article 35 of the Egyptian Constitution states that “Private property is safeguarded, and the right to inherit it is guaranteed, and it is not permissible to impose guardianship on it except in the cases stipulated in the law and by judicial ruling.” It also states that: “Property is not expropriated except for public benefit, and in return for fair compensation paid in advance according to the law.” Many legal experts made it clear that the citizen must agree to takeover, and the law did not indicate the importance of the citizen’s approval of the matter. They added that one of the law’s disadvantages is the meager percentage that a citizen receives upon takeover, as it is estimated at 20 per cent.
Demolishing mosques and real estate
Meanwhile, Counselor Mohamed Attia, former Minister of Local Development, said, in press statements, that there was no problem in the implementation of the law of expropriation of real estate in favour of public benefit No. 10 of the year 1990. Meanwhile, citizens and many activists on social media feared the consequences of amending the law on expropriation for public benefit on the basis that it would lead to the demolition of more real estate and mosques that obstruct the path of the new bridges.
Al-Sisi’s government continues to demolish mosques amid a state of anger on social media, especially after the circulation of clips to remove the Sahaba Mosque in the Kafr al-Dawar centre in the Buhaira Governorate (north of the country). Last year, al-Sisi gave the army and security authorities the green light to demolish any mosque that impedes the Mahmudiyah axis’ establishment, regardless of its status. A previous campaign by the Egyptian authorities targeted the demolition of 10 mosques on the Mahmoudiya Canal Road, in Alexandria Governorate. In less than five months alone, eight mosques were demolished in Alexandria Governorate alone, the last of which was al-Ikhlas Mosque, to join the mosques of Ezbet Salam in the Abu Soliman area.
Other mosques demolished were Fajr al-Islam mosque, al-Tawhid, Othman Bin Affan in al-Zawaida, Noor al-Islam in Bakous neighbourhood, al-Hamd mosque in Khorshid, and al-Awayed al-Kabir. Until recently, Egyptian engineers building bridges worked to avoid the demolition of mosques, through multiple engineering solutions so as not to provoke widespread anger. But the current Egyptian regime has refused to amend the plans to avoid the mosques, despite warnings from observers that this may provoke widespread anger among the public who view the mosques with great affection.