Socialist Worker

Rage and repression after Israeli attack

Issue No. 1929

Tanks rolled onto the streets of Cairo, Egypt, last Monday after student protests erupted across the country.

Over 10,000 students took part in the biggest protests since the invasion of Iraq. The demonstrations were organised by left wing and Islamic student organisations.

From Ain al-Shams University in Cairo to Tanta University in the north and Alexandria University on the Mediterranean coast, students rallied to protest at the killing of three Egyptian policemen by Israeli troops on the border with the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government apologised for killing the policemen, but added fuel to the fire by saying they thought they were killing Palestinians.

The Gaza Strip is home to over one million Palestinians, and was seized by Israel from Egypt during the 1967 war.

At Alexandria University up to 4,000 students demanded that their government reject the Israeli apology and pressured Israel to release six Egyptian students currently held in Israeli jails.

In Cairo students demanded that Egypt tear up the 1979 peace agreement with Israel—a deal that is deeply unpopular in the North African nation.

Students also protested against mass arrests following a bomb attack on Israeli tourists at the Red Sea resort of Taba. Egyptian security organisations raided every home in the area after the attack in October 2003.

Aida Seif Al-Dawla of the Egyptian Association Against Torture told Socialist Worker that up to 5,000 people have been arrested: “Every family in Taba has suffered. Every family has one son or husband in prison.”

In the run-up to the US war on Iraq, and Israel’s invasion of the West Bank, tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in the biggest protests for a generation.

In March 2003 thousands defied heavy repression to occupy Midan Tahrir, Cairo’s central square. The movement, known as the Midan Tahrir Intifada, began as a protest against the war on Iraq but turned its anger on the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The government fears any protest could ignite mass anger after years of severe economic policies that have seen the living standards of ordinary Egyptians collapse. Mubarak is a key US ally in the region.

The Egyptian Popular Committee for Solidarity With the Palestinians is calling an international demonstration in the border town of Rafah.

The march, set for 10 December, will coincide with the anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights.

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Sat 27 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1929
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