Socialist Worker

The battle for Egypt continues

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2238

The past week has been one of turmoil in Egypt. Plain clothes police, security forces and paid thugs brutally attacked protesters in Tahrir Square in central Cairo on Wednesday of last week.

The protests in the square have become the focal point of the revolution, and it would have been a bitter defeat if the thugs had driven people off the streets.

But the people protected themselves as the army stood by—and the protests and revolution have continued.

Workers organised strikes on Tuesday of this week.

Telecoms workers in Cairo struck. Three thousand lecturers walked out and joined the people in Tahrir Square.

People working for the Lafarge shipping company in Suez are also striking. Their demands include recognition of their trade union and support for the revolution. Some 6,000 in total are striking and sitting-in on the Suez canal.

More strikes and workers’ protests were planned for Wednesday. Independent unions will demonstrate in front of the headquarters of the state-backed Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions in Cairo.

Trade unionists are calling for corruption charges to be brought against the head of the federation, and the lifting of all restrictions on establishing free unions.

Civil servants will lead a march to Tahrir Square in support of the revolution.

But the ruling elite has tried to regain its power.

Last week protesters fought running battles with Mubarak’s thugs—building barricades, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails to force them back.

Snipers tried to kill demonstrators. Thugs rode into the crowd on camels and horses, armed with whips and bats.

They also attacked protests in Alexandria and Suez. Protesters were picked up, detained and tortured (see box).

The counter-revolutionaries were beaten back and millions of people continued to take to the streets to demand change.

A stubborn but shaken Hosni Mubarak went onto Egyptian state television on Tuesday of last week to say he would not stand in the next election and neither would his son.

Immediately

This did nothing to quell the protests—the call for him to leave immediately became stronger.

Men and women of all ages have smashed the wall of repression surrounding their lives and they do not want it rebuilt.

And while people join together and hold signs reading, “We are all Egyptians”, the West is in a state of panic.

The US ruling class claims to support change, but is terrified that Islamist forces might play a leading role in a new government. Their priority is to preserve US power and influence in the Middle East.

The Muslim Brotherhood is part of the movement, but it does not control it. The interference of the US only makes the Egyptian people despise them and the Mubarak regime even more.

The situation in Egypt remains fluid. Strikes by organised workers will be crucial to taking the revolution forward.


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