The coup commits a “massacre” against the trees of Antoniadis Gardens in Alexandria – Freedom and Justice Gate

Fears are growing that the coup government will raze the Antoniadis Park in Alexandria, as this is a new distortion of the green wealth in Egypt, which the coup regime insists on distorting day after day.

Middle East Eye reviewed the dimensions of the new crisis, pointing out that municipal bulldozers are cutting down Antoniadis Gardens, a centuries-old site in Alexandria with trees and statues dating back to the Ptolemaic era. general in the country.

The authorities in Alexandria were quick to dispel fears that the gardens might be demolished.

Alexandria Governor Mohamed Sherif challenged those who talk about a plan by the government to flatten the gardens and said, “I challenge those who say we are uprooting garden trees to prove it,” the governor told a local TV channel.

Sheriff also referred to a presidential directive to reform parks.

“Construction workers and equipment are in the gardens to modernize them,” said Badria Hassan, the parks director.

She claimed that the trees in the gardens are being pruned, a dilapidated fence is being reconstructed and some new features will be added to the place, including swimming pools.

“We will preserve the history of the gardens, including their statues, rare trees and plants,” she said.

Development or demolition?

The supposed modernization of the gardens is being carried out by one of the largest construction companies in Egypt, and the company has brought its equipment to the area, including bulldozers, and deployed dozens of workers working around the clock.

However, there was some confusion about the entity responsible for the project.

Soheir Hawass, a member of the National Center for Urban Harmony criticized the authorities in Alexandria for not notifying her organization, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture, about the current work in the gardens.

The reasons for marginalizing the organization, which should oversee the demolition or repair of historic buildings in Egypt, can be traced back to comments made by an unnamed assistant professor at the Agricultural Research Center, affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, to a local news outlet that the armed forces had seized the gardens two weeks ago. .

“The armed forces ordered the employees to vacate the administrative buildings of the parks and also removed offices and files from these buildings,” he said.

“Garden trees are important because they represent different historical eras, the unfortunate thing is that development as a term has become intimidating, especially in the context of historical sites,” Hawass told MEE.

Meanwhile, historian Islam Asim said that “the absence of public information about the project exacerbated the public’s mistrust of the government.”

“There are credibility concerns from the current work in the parks due to the lack of transparency on the part of the authorities, this lack of transparency generates little confidence in what they are doing anywhere,” he told Middle East Eye.

Antoniadis Gardens is a historical site that dates back to the Ptolemaic period in Egypt and is considered the oldest in Alexandria.

She was a witness to many events associated with the Ptolemaic rulers in Egypt.

In the early 19th century, the ownership of the gardens passed to a wealthy Greek man and then to Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian officer who represented the Ottoman Sultan in Egypt and then established his own dynasty in the Arab country.

The Egyptians, especially the residents of Alexandria, consider the gardens a precious part of the city’s history.

The Antoniadis Gardens are at the center of these attractions. Muhammad Ali Pasha chose the gardens to be the site of his new palace in Alexandria In 1860, Khedive Ismail Ibn Muhammad Ali asked a French artist to design the gardens after the gardens of Versailles Palace in Paris, where Ismail had spent some time when he visited France.

The expansions ordered by Ismail increased the size of the gardens from 50 acres to more than 70 acres. The gardens currently cover 96 acres and are home to dozens of rare trees, especially palm trees, and they also contain centuries-old statues.

Fears of destruction

However, those who pass by the gardens now can only see scenes of destruction.

This is why some express fears that the work in progress in the gardens will lose their appeal or tarnish an important part of Alexandria’s heritage.

One man cited the example of another park that had been modernized by the authorities in the Mediterranean city earlier, and said that “instead of preserving the park, the Alexandria authorities built a block of buildings on it.”

Another man expected Antoniadis’ gardens to fill up with shops, including those selling Egyptian street food.

“Does modernization mean cutting down trees?” he asked on Twitter.

Others blamed the authorities in Alexandria for neglecting the gardens for years, making it costly to restore them to their original condition.

“Who is responsible for this?” asked a woman.

Some of the gardens’ contents were looted, including a centuries-old statue in which a visitor smashed his head earlier this year.

One commentator hoped the authorities would leave the parks as is, citing concerns that overhaul would destroy them.

Previous demolitions

The Egyptian coup government has been criticized in the past months for uprooting trees and destroying important sites to make way for development projects.

A few weeks ago, the government came under fire for building an overpass and pedestrian bridge inches from the coast of Alexandria.

The authorities in Alexandria said that “the two projects are being implemented to reduce overcrowding in the area.”

However, environmentalists have warned that the projects will be harmful to the coast of the Mediterranean city and cause additional pollution.

Environmentalists have also criticized the government on several occasions for uprooting trees from streets in various areas, including in the Heliopolis district of eastern Cairo, where roads are being widened.

Some people have gone so far as to describe the cutting of trees in different parts of Egypt as a “massacre of trees”.

The Egyptian Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad, defended the cutting of trees, saying that “some of them were planted in the wrong place, and that any trees that are uprooted are replanted in other places, and Egypt is implementing a plan to plant 100 million trees as part of a national campaign for afforestation.”

All this comes as Egypt prepares to host the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in November this year.

Project support

Some of those who live in Alexandria or have knowledge of the Antoniadis gardens support the current reform, saying that “the gardens are in dire need of modernization, after being neglected for many years, and this neglect has turned the gardens into a center of crime”.

“The parks started to deteriorate in 2005, we used to visit them and enjoy their beauty,” the woman wrote on Twitter, “then they turned into a horrible place.”

Source: بوابة الحرية والعدالة by

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