photo: Hossam El-Hamalawy
In this two part interview on the current political and economic situation in Egypt. Hossam el-Hamalawy is a journalist and blogger from Cairo who has been active in the struggles for social and economic justice in egypt and in the labor movement.
Eygypt over the past 3 years has now begun to see its own intifada, the systemic repression of Mubaraks regime of over the past 26 years, has no longer been able to contain Egypt’s social movements. With the riots and pro-democracy demonstrations that began during the supposed presidential elections. Where Kifeya an umbrella pro-democracy movement has emerged. Or the defiance of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition party, took seats in the parliament and also protested widely against Egypt’s Security and Emergency laws. Which has led to a police state
“par-excellance” But also the Egyptian workers have began to take to the streets, in the delta and in the factories. Egyptian workers have been fighting for not just immediate demands but an end to Mubarak’s rule, and to an economic system that has abandoned them with not enough income to survive.
The peak of this has been at the Ghazl Mahalla Textile factory the second largest in Egypt. Where this wave of workers actions began that spread through the country. Demanding an increase in their wages to a living income, a release of the Mahalla 5 strike leaders, now to demands for a raise in the minimum wage and an end to Mubarak’s regime. These workers are now at the forefront a movement that stems all across Egypt, for basic dignity and rights.
The second issue of Egyptian Workers and Social Resistance put the number of industrial actions from January to July 2007 alone at 368: 100 Sit-ins, 109 Strikes, 33 Demonstrations, 126 illegal assemblies accompanied by a short-period work stoppages.
Where the average textile worker makes only 30 us dollars a month meaning the poverty line. Almost 22 % of Egyptians live on that poverty line.
Egypt being under authoritarian rule under Hosni Mubarak since 1981, has led to massive repression of over 25,000 political prisoners, systematic torture and the creation of a privatized economy that has put the majority of Egyptians under poverty. Egypt has seen the most disenfranchised take to the streets in 2006 and in 2007,
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