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Fayoum Pottery Makers Band Together in Protest Against Demolition Order

23 May, 2017
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Ancient Egyptians were some of the first to delve into pottery making. Thus, the art of making pottery has deep roots in Egypt, and they run the deepest in a peaceful little village located south of Lake Qarun.

However, a decision by security forces to build a police station in Tunis Village, located on the western edge of Fayoum, has created turned peace into anger. Sparked by discontent, all pottery makers in the village have decided to close their shops in solidarity against a government demolition order.

According to Ahram Online, a fence belonging to a pottery maker’s workshop was torn down based on government orders, and there are plans to demolish his entire shop in order to make room for the police station. The news portal of Welad Belad and several other local outlets have reported that there are plans to demolish even more pottery workshops.

The pottery makers of Tunis Village decided to close their workshops to protest against the decision, demanding that their ownership of the land be recognized by the government and their work toward bolstering tourism in Egypt be respected. This is the first time in 30 years that the pottery shops have seen all of their doors shut.  

The government sought out land owned by villagers to select the spot for the police station’s construction, under the assumption that the property ultimately belongs to the state because it is not registered with the government, reported Egypt Independent.

However, according to Mohamed Abla, an artist and founder of Tunis Village’s Caricature Museum, the pottery makers purchased the land for their workshops from the government, which stalled on dispensing proper permits that recognize their ownership. “We have asked a million times to legalize our properties, but to no avail,” said Abla in a post on Facebook. Abla also closed the doors to his museum in solidarity with the pottery makers.

“Tunis Village in Fayoum is famous around the world for its production of pottery and ceramics,” said Abla on Facebook. “For over 35 years it has had an unemployment rate of zero and has not relied on the government for anything. The government has decided instead to threaten the village’s presence and future.”  

Abla argued that the pottery makers of Tunis Village have only encouraged tourism, which helps the state, but the government is negatively affecting the progress they’ve made with their decision.

The government has so far not made any public statements regarding the protest among pottery makers in Tunis Village.

Tunis Village hosts an annual pottery festival to showcase the products of its famous pottery makers and artists. In 2016, the festival was sponsored by ALEXBANK as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility initiative Ebdaa Min Masr (Creativity from Egypt), which helps Egyptian artists promote their work in and outside of Egypt. ALEXBANK helped organize last year’s festival by creating special personalized placards to mark each pottery school across Tunis Village as well as maps that explain the locations of each. 

Photo credit: Hannah Pethen/Flickr

Tags pottery Tunis Village Fayoum art AlexBank