rEmEmbEr imbAbA

"but aren't squatters the enemy of the civil society?Robert Neuwirth was asked about his experience in the squatter communities while he was in Mumbai. Squatters can seize control over matters if they organized as they make up half of the population in Mumbai (with a population like the one of Cairo and more that 70% dwelling in informal areas...we can imagine what they are capable of, keeping in mind how many gathered in Tahrir Square during the 25th Jan Egyptian Revolution). If 1 out of 10 squatters decided to march on the CBD to demand city services, they'll make up a crowd of about 600,000 people. They can paralyze traffic and outnumber the police. They can easily execute a civil disobedience in response to the social exclusion they are treated with, but they don't. Squatters aren't the enemy of the civil society,this is how Neuwirth answered. In fact they are the most law abiding people as they pay their bills for self provided services while others who live within the walls of gated communities sometimes don't. Squatters value civil society and want to find a way to work within a system that acknowledge them. This is evident in Mumbai as well as in Istanbul as in 1984 the government passed a law that gave amnesty to all existing gecekondus and authorized these areas to be redeveloped.
Between 8 and 9 December 1992 around 12,000 to 18,000 Egyptian troops laid siege to Imbaba, second most densely populated residential informal district of greater metropolitan Cairo. the siege was equipped with armored personnel carriers, trained dogs, bulldozers and other equipment that are appropriate for a war between two armies. This crackdown was motivated by the increasing power of  the Islamist group called (al gama'a al islamiya) as they've been gaining strength in numbers among other islamist groups operating for almost a decade in Imbaba. The siege resulted in over 100 killed and wounded and over 600 arrested. The siege of Imbaba became a political spectacle that is a generator of multiple point of views accompanied by various perceptions, anxieties, aspirations and strategies. It constituted a turning point in how informal areas and their residents were negatively stigmatized, facilitating the construction of them as the criminalized "other" dangerous to the civil society.

The Siege of Imbaba, Egypt's Internal 'Other,' and the Criminalization of Politics by Diane Singerman in Cairo Contested
Shadow Cities by Robert Neuwirth

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The people from the barrio built the city twice: during the day we built the houses of the well-off. At night and at weekends, with solidarity, we built our own homes, our barrio.

  —Andrés Antillano, resident of Caracas, April 15, 2004