Egypt's Nubians protest against government sale of ancestral homeland
Hundreds of Nubians in Egypt have demonstrated against the government's planned takeover of land, which belongs to the minority's ancestral homeland in southern Egypt.
Protesters blocked the main road for a third day on Monday between the city of Aswan and the Abu Simbel archaeological site, after police last weekend prevented a group of Nubians from returning to their ancestral lands.
Nubians, an ethnic minority that traces its roots back to an ancient civilisation on the Nile, have been forcibly displaced four times in the 20th century, most recently in 1964 with the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
"The protesting young people are angry about the state putting Nubian lands up for sale and because their demonstrations have been broken up," a member of parliament representing Nubian constituents told The New Arab.
"Both sides are sticking to their positions; the government does not seem to want to come up with solutions and protesters will not stand down until their demands are met," the MP, speaking anonymously added.
|Egypt's constitution grants Nubians the right
to return to their land [Getty]
"Nubians have been waiting patiently since the Sadat-era to reclaim their land, the penalty for their patience cannot be other people coming in and buying it. Everyone knows that the Forgundi area is Nubian."
Egypt's constitution, adopted in 2014, grants Nubians the right to return to their land within ten years of ratification.
But President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has designated large swaths of land for a new mega-national project and has declared an area encompassing 16 Nubian villages to be a closed military zone.
On Saturday, some 700 Nubians arranged a symbolic trip back dubbed "The Nubian Return Caravan" to the village of Forgundi but were stopped by police, who then attacked protesters injuring three people.
Clashes then erupted in Aswan, with security forces firing rubber bullets at young protesters after they blocked roads and lit tires on fire.
On Monday, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the former head of SCAF and minister of defence, who is of Nubian origin, visited Aswan to meet with Nubian leaders to discuss the crisis.
The Arabic-language hashtag #NubianReturnCaravan has gained traction on social media with many non-Nubians expressing solidarity for the Nubian cause.