More than 10,000 residents of Akhmim village in Sohag staged riots in front of local municipal council headquarters on Tuesday.
Disturbances erupted after the governor of Sohag issued a decision prohibiting residents from burying their dead in the village’s traditional cemetery, ordering them to use a new one instead.
Residents pelted the local council building with stones and burned tires in the village’s public square, causing traffic to pile up.
Police used tear gas to disperse protesters, cordoned off the area around council headquarters and arrested some 30 villagers.
The governor announced the unpopular decision after the Supreme Council for Antiquities declared the cemetery an archeological site.
“They will begin excavating to look for a temple of Ramses II,” the governor explained. “A discovery of this magnitude would turn Akhmim into an important tourist destination.”
Villagers have demanded ownership of the new cemetery rather than its use on a usufruct basis.
“They have no such right,” the governor asserted. “And why would they need it, since usufruct is unlimited?”
Translated from the Arabic Edition.