The project to recreate the “Avenue of the Sphinxes”, which once connected the temples of Luxor and Karnak in the ancient city of Thebes, is causing controversy as families are being uprooted to make way for the 2.7km tourist attraction.
“I will not be forced out of my home without fair compensation,” the village elder vows as a hydraulic hammer reduces his neighbor’s brick home to rubble. “If they try to destroy my house I will lock myself inside it.”
Khodari is the patriarch of an extended family of 14 who live in the two-storey house, its exterior walls adorned with paintings of his pilgrimage to Mecca four years ago. He has defied a municipal eviction order and demands “equitable compensation” before vacating the home he claims is built on land his family has occupied for over 200 years.
“For the past month the government has cut off our water and electricity during the day to pressure us to leave,” he says. “Then they came a week ago and told us we must go. Go where? Into the streets, the desert… to Israel?”
Hundreds of low-income families have lost their homes since Luxor city officials approved a controversial plan to excavate an ancient processional route and develop it as a key tourist attraction.