Friday, January 28, 2011

events in Egypt: background

As tens of thousands are on the streets of the cities of Egypt, it appears that members of the security forces are starting to refuse to follow their orders. If the uprising is to be successful, this must happen. Jack Shenker, who is on the ground in Cairo sending continual reports for The Guardian, has today written this short but accurate account of the background to the current unrest in Egypt, which puts it in its appropriate context. The media is portraying the uprising as being driven by young, tech-savvy educated and underemployed men and women. Shenker sets the record straight. I reproduce part of the account in full:

"It was a 2008 strike by textile workers in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla al-Kubra that fired the imagination of many of those on the streets today. The three people shot dead by security forces during the Mahalla unrest on 16 April inspired an online movement which took its name from the date.

The traditional working class from all corners of the country has continued to provoke and inspire dissident activity ever since, occupying pavements outside parliament for weeks on end to highlight the devastating impact of the neoliberal reforms pursued by the ruling NDP party. Some trade unions – most notably the real estate tax collectors – have gone on to break free from state control.

Away from the economic concerns, anger at police corruption and brutality has been at the heart of the new wave of protest."

To which, of course, one must add the authoritarian corruption and brutality of the Mubarak regime.

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