Egyptian Protests, Sit-ins over Economic Setbacks, Price Hikes Unabated
2007- dubbed the year of unprecedented strikes and sit-ins- came to a close after witnessing thousands of political and popular peaceful protests staged by various sections of the Egyptian people in demonstrations, protests and strike .
However, 2007 did not mean ending the spate of various labor sit-ins and protests mostly for low wages and salaries as Egyptian citizens can”t address their daily needs.
The committee of coordination between parties and popular and political powers staged on Sunday, Jan, 20th, 2007, a demonstration in El-Mahalla El-Kubra protesting at the deteriorating economic situations plus the skyrocketing prices in Egypt.
These demonstrations were staged by several political powers like Al-Wafd liberal part, Tagamue party, the Muslim Brotherhood group in addition to thousands of residents and workers at Ghazl Al Mahala. They raised signs in which they voiced their rejection to increasing prices, decreasing basic commodities, in addition to the government”s slow abolition of ration cards allocated to low-income families.
The demonstrators- more than 5000 Egyptian citizens- warned of remaking the hungry revolution that erupted in Egypt in Jan, 19th, 1977, demanding government to step down and to hold accountable those corrupt officials who destroyed Egyptian economy and impoverished people.
It is worth mentioning that some labor sit-ins were met with a positive response from government last year and it started to address demands of some protesting sections of the society.
However, the government changed its attitude this time as security forces ringed the region witnessing the protesting march from the early morning an skirmishes erupted between the demonstrators and Egyptian security forces when the demonstrators tried to change the vigil into a march to move in streets of Al-Mahalla”s main district. They security forces prevented a number of photographers and media figures from covering this peaceful vigil.
Thios wasn”t the first incident in which security faces prevented citizens from staging a peaceful demonstration. The security forces dispersed a peaceful vigil staged by about 150 graduates of Sayarfa institute (graduates of 2006) who demanded being appointed like their colleagues as many of them are unemployed although the Ministry of Finance is committed to appointing them 6 months after their graduation.
The peaceful vigil was scheduled to be staged in front of the People”s Assembly but the security forces detained a number of protesters for more than four hours in a side street.
Also, security forces dispersed another demonstration staged by dozens of owners of tuc tucs (autorickshaws) who demanded receiving license for their autorickshaws repeating that government deceived them when it sold them these small vehicles and confiscated them later.
Some 300 drivers and assistant drivers working in the railway authority held a demonstration in which they demanded being paid incentives and vacation allowances. There demands were addressed after this demonstration.
Many physicians threatened with staging a strike after Minister of Health, Dr. Hatem Al Gabali, issued statements in which he refused to apply the Special Cadre regulation related to them. The physicians demanded improving their salaries to keep up with the soaring prices.
Other popular movements like Kifaya (Enough) and the Muslim Brotherhood issued statements and took part in protests and demonstrations in which they denounced the price hikes which is fully contradicting with the continuously increasing poverty among Egyptian citizens.
Although they show a state of awareness among the Egyptian people, these sit-ins and protests presage, according to many observers, a serious disaster if people”s anger reaches its peak, and it may lead to a remake of popular revolution like the bread uprising that erupted in Egypt, 31 years ago.