Socialist Worker

Resistance in Egypt piles pressure on Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regime

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2673

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Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is facing fresh calls for his resgination (Pic: kremiln.ru)


Egyptians took to the streets on Friday and Saturday in courageous demonstrations against the regime of president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

It is an important development of defiance to the authorities that have imposed years of bitter repression.

The trigger for the demonstrations was a call for resistance by Mohamed Ali, an exiled businessman. 

The construction contractor has been posting popular videos since early September, accusing Sisi and the military of rampant corruption.

But the background is anger against the lack of freedom and growing poverty.

The government has imposed strict austerity measures since 2016 as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

Nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line, on less than £1.10 a day, according to official figures.

Grievances

On Friday protesters gathered first in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Abdel Moneim Riad. Right from the start their slogans were not about particular grievances but for Sisi to go.

In Alexandria, hundreds marched to the waterfront, chanting "rise up, fear not, Sisi must go". In  the port city of Damietta, protesters tore down a large poster of the president.

Demonstrators also gathered in Suez and the cities of Mahalla and Tanta. Protests took place again in Cairo on Saturday. 

In most places they involved hundreds, not thousands, of people. But in a time of extreme repression they are significant.

Sisi and the army removed the elected president Mohammed Morsi and took over in 2013. He banned protests and a state of emergency is still in place.

Hundreds of people have been arrested in recent days, as part of an escalating crackdown in response to the protests. One of them was human rights lawyer Mahienour el-Masry.

Mahienour was bundled into a microbus by plain-clothed officers on Sunday afternoon after attending the prosecutor’s office to follow up on arrests of alleged protesters.

A statement from the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt said, “It is certain that the grip of terror on the hearts of people across Egypt is slackening and that the wall of fear built by the regime during the last six years is cracking and close to collapse. 

“The departure of Sisi is no longer a distant dream, but nearer than ever before. 

“The courage of the women and men who have protested despite the consequences they will face, deserves to be saluted as well as prompting reflection. Without a doubt they have restored hope to millions who have succumbed to despair after the defeat of the January 2011 revolution. 

“The people are much stronger than they seemed until just a few hours ago. 

It went on to call for “vigilance on the part of the masses who must be prepared to fight to the end against dictatorship. They must learn not to rise up simply so that others can reap the fruits of their revolution and their sacrifices.” 

“Any change which does not remove the military from power, thus bringing freedom and justice for the people, will lead to the theft of the revolution from the masses once again, and this cannot be allowed to happen.”

Read the full Revolutionary Socialists' statement at bit.ly/RevSoc0919 and a further analysis piece at bit.ly/RevSoc09192 For solidarity with Mahienour el-Masry go to bit.ly/Mahienour0919

Resistance and represssion

February 2011: Mass protests and strikes remove president Hosni Mubarak. He had ruled for 30 years with the backing of the US and Britain.
June 2012: Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood elected as president  
July 2013: General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seizes  the presidency at the head of a military regime. He carries out ferocious repression.

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