By Nasser Azzazi
South Rafah residents held a poetry reading on Friday night in protest over Law 203, passed by Egypt’s Defense Minister last December, which prevents residents from owning or using land within five kilometers of Sinai’s eastern border with Israel.
The poetry reading was attended by some residents and a number of popular figures such as al-Qadi al-Arifi Abd al-Hadi, who spoke about the negative effects this decision would have on the inhabitants of the region.
Poems by prominent members of the al-Nabati tribe were recited, including those from Husayn Bin Amr al-Tahi, Abd al-Qadr Ayad, Ibrahim Dayfullah, Samir Mohsan, Ahmed Abu Mahawash, Hamdin Dayfullah, Husayin al-Dayb, and Salama Abu Sakirb.
Ibrahim Alyan, of the al-Suwarka tribe, criticised the government for its lack of vision regarding development in Sinai, which he blamed for the government’s failure to protect Egypt’s national security interests. He said that this decision demonstrated the government’s lack of respect for citizens of the region.
He further added that by not allowing citizens to own land on the border, the Egyptian government was chipping away at the country’s first line of defence against outside aggression at a time when Israel seeks to intervene in the Sinai.
Husayin al-Qim, a political activist, asked residents to protest on Sunday morning over the deterioration of public services in the city of Sheikh Zuwaid. The town suffers from water and electricity shortages and does not have a viable healthcare system, despite legislation passed in 2009 to address these issues.
Political activist Abd al-Qadr Mubarak also called on citizens to protest outside the North Sinai Governor’s Office in the city of Al-Arish on Sunday morning in solidarity with scheduled protests in Rafah, and central Sinai as well as Sheikh Zuwaid.
Additional reporting by Rana Muhammad Taha