State orchestrated murder of Al- Ahly supporters?

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gypsy
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Feb 1 2012 20:44
State orchestrated murder of Al- Ahly supporters?
Quote:
At least 73 people have been killed in clashes between rival fans following a football match in the Egyptian city of Port Said, state television reports.

The deaths occurred as supporters invaded the pitch after a match between top-tier clubs Masry and al-Ahly on Wednesday.

It is feared the death toll could rise as about 1,000 people have been hurt.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16845841

Rumours going round that the state allowed the Al-Ahly supporters to be attacked by the Masry supporters. Some of the Al-Ahly hooligans have recently help set up a political party and its ultras have been involved in many riots in the recent uprisings in Egypt.

Mark.
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Feb 2 2012 01:03

Report in the Egypt Independent

http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/632996

Comment on the Egyptian Chronicles blog

http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2012/02/football-tragedy-sad-for-egypt.html

Some background on the ultras

http://www.thedailynewsegypt.com/football/the-ultras-white-knights-football-hooliganism-or-social-movement.html

Coverage on Twitter

http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23ahly

Also

http://storify.com/asteris/egypt-football-tragedy-in-port-said-more-than-70-d?

gypsy
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Feb 2 2012 09:42

Cheers Mark.

Mark.
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Feb 2 2012 10:59

3arabawy: Protesters inside Misr Station in Ramses (Cairo), awaiting the injured Ultras members coming back from Port Said, chanting: “The people demand the execution of the Field Marshal (Tantawi).”

Ultras football fans target ruling generals

Hundreds in Cairo protest after Port Said football tragedy

Quote:
Hundreds have blocked the Nile Corniche in front of the Maspero state television building to protest the violence following a football match Wednesday in Port Said, which left at least 71 football fans dead.

“Security forces are supposed to secure the exit of fans with an iron fist. Protocol calls for them to close all gates leading to the visiting team’s fans until they are sure of their security,” said Adel Aql, a veteran football match observer.

Relatives and friends of the victims marched to the TV building from Cairo's Ramses train station, where they had been waiting for fans returning from Port Said. At the station, nearly 10,000 Al-Ahly Ultras received their fellow fans early Thursday, and demanded the head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, be executed.

Ahly fans were accompanied by supporters of their arch-rival, Zamalek, at the protest, and all chanted slogans against the SCAF and Tantawi.

Thousands of demonstrators from nearby Tahrir Square also joined the protest, which halted traffic in front of Maspero. Dozens of Ahly Ultras also marched in the square itself, chanting angrily and demanding retribution for their dead comrades.

Emad Eddin Hussein, the managing editor of the independent Al-Shorouk daily, said protesters prevented him, TV commentators and other reporters from entering the Maspero building. In a radio interview, Hussein voiced solidarity with the demonstrators and held the Interior Ministry responsible for the crisis.

Protesters said their numbers are likely to grow throughout the day Thursday, adding that they intend to organize marches from Tahrir to the Interior Ministry and the cabinet building, both of which are located near the square.

Activists, politicians see more than hooliganism in football violence

Quote:
The violence has already raised calls to assign blame, with many accusing security forces and their ultimate bosses in Egypt’s transition, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Others are opting to situate the event in expected football hooliganism, common in Egypt.

Eyewitnesses described security forces as doing very little to prevent the violence, while more than just Masry fans attacked the Ahly Ultras. “All of my friends returning from the match assured us that they were not attacked by soccer fans only, but by another infiltrating crowd,” said journalist Mohamed Beshir on his Twitter account.

Eyewitnesses also confirmed that security was entirely absent when the Masry fans stormed the field. They claimed that security forces allowed Masry fans to enter the visitor team’s stands. Masry fans were allowed to celebrate their third goal in the field without being confronted by police. They did the same after they won the match and instead of celebrating their extremely rare win, began attacking Ahly players and fans.

“We were worried and pleaded with Central Security Forces to allow us to wait behind closed doors until things died down, while they kept telling us to leave,” said Ahmed, an Ahly Ultras member who refused to give his full name due to the group’s no-media policy. When they completely refused to leave the stands, Central Security Forces opened the door to angry Masry fans, and that’s when the situation worsened, Ahmed added.

“Security forces are supposed to secure the exit of fans with an iron fist. Protocol calls for them to close all gates leading to the visiting team’s fans until they are sure of their security,” said Adel Aql, a veteran football match observer.

Reports suggest that the security ignored warning signs of potential clashes. In the pre-match warm up, fans fired flare guns and fireworks on the Ahly players and, “police received a tip that known ex-cons were making their way to the Masry stadium armed with melee weapons,” said Wael Qandeel, managing editor of the daily Al-Shorouk, citing personal sources.

In a statement posted by the Masry Ultras Green Eagles on their Facebook page, the group assured that they were committed to peacefully support their team and prevent any infiltrators from reaching their ranks. The group noted that it was approached by “some thugs” before the match as they wanted to pressure the government to give them apartments by attempting to kidnap the Ahly players from their hotel by means of pressure. The Masry Ultras also said that earlier in the morning, some people fought to get tickets to the game threatening vendors with arms.

“Our group has nothing to do with what happened. We shall stop our activities as the Masry Ultras Green Eagles in respect to those who were killed for Egypt,” read the statement, which also called for a march to protest the violence and demand an end to military rule.

Many of the victims died from direct blows to the head with weapons, and others from asphyxiation from being trampled under the 17,000-strong crowd, according to Health Ministry reports.

wojtek
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Feb 2 2012 11:30

Reuters: 74 killed following Egypt pitch invasion

Reuters: Incensed Egyptians stage protests after deaths

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ocelot
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Feb 2 2012 14:01

Yet again Mark. beat me to it. But the rest of that Egypt Independent article is worth quoting:

Quote:
[...]
“This is a massacre. I’ve never seen as many dead bodies in one place at one time out of all the wars I’ve witnessed,” said Port Said MP Al-Badry Farghaly on a television interview.

Farghaly confirmed reports that Port Said governor and the city’s head of security did not attend the match, which is uncommon for games between the two teams.

“For the first time in the recent history of matches between the two teams, the governor and head of security from the city are absent,” said Khaled Mamdouh, a veteran sports journalist in a television interview.

“I am not a proponent of conspiracy theories. But today a massacre happened, and someone has to be responsible. There is only SCAF right now who seems responsible. This is an indication that we all need to stand together to end military rule as soon as possible,” said activist Wael Khalil.

Wednesday’s violence came right after SCAF head Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi gave a speech saying he would limit the use of Emergency Law to acts of thuggery. It also comes one day after Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim spoke at parliament proselytizing on the merit of emergency laws. Many linked the match violence to these statements in a regime quest to showcase the relevance of the Emergency Law, of which abolishment has been one of the main demands of the revolutionaries since January 2011.

“What happened cannot be a coincidence. This massacre and three armed robberies happened only one day after Ibrahim tried to talk to us about the need for a state of emergency,” Ziad al-Elaimy, an MP with the Social Democratic Party said in a television interview.

“There is no such thing as 73 killed [the official number when Younis spoke] because of a soccer game. This is a planned massacre, just like the Mohamed Mahmoud massacre in November,” said Sherif Younis, a history professor at Helwan University, in reference to the November 2011 clashes that left more than 40 dead after security forces and military police attacked a small group of peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square.

So Year II begins with mass demonstrations followed by what looks apriori like a state-orchestrated massacre. This could be SCAF's Piazza Fontana.

Mark.
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Feb 3 2012 01:01

Some more links

About the Port Said massacre (Arabist blog)

Live updates (ahramonline)

Port Said massacre: everybody is responsible (Egyptian Chronicles)

but see this comment in response to the last one

Quote:
Not exactly everyone to blame.

EIPR's initial investigation, according Al Jazeera English interview:

- Security systematically didn't check tickets nor searched the fans.
- Security let the cordon open for initial attack.
- Witnesses said that attackers were mostly recognizable hired local criminals armed with machetes and knives, that had nothing to do with being fans
- Higher ranking officers commanded lower ranks to not intervene.
- Security blocked all but one exit, causing people elsewhere in stadium to either jump from the edge (10-15 meters) or face armed criminals
- Having only one exit caused higher stampede risk those trying to flee

Looks like it might have been as some pointed out, revenge by Old Regime (SCAF & Mubarak remnants) on Ultras.

Edit: from Egypt Independent

Port Said violence was work of infiltrators, not ultras, say locals

The regime gets back at Port Said

Some background on football and the fans in this video from July last year

Egypt, football and revolution

Mark.
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Feb 3 2012 13:48

Photos/breaking news

Blame game over Egypt's football clashes (BBC)

Two shot dead in Suez (BBC)

Clashes continue in Egypt (ahramonline)

Ultras in Egypt (Freedom)

Mark.
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Feb 5 2012 00:41

What happened in Port Said as told by @Heemalization (UA07 Ahly Ultras)

Quote:
From day one we’re trying to calm people down, and we knew a problem would happen. We kept repeating that we made a statement and this time is too critical for any of that; and many of the older members of the UA07 (Ahly Ultras) were telling the younger ones to maintain self control.

Out train was thrown by rocks in Ismailia and that we were used to. It is the norm for the train or bus to be attacked when it is on its way from one province to another. The train broke down so we went down in a train station in “Al Cap” before Port Said in order to ride buses that will take us to Port Said because we knew that they prepared an ambush for us at the train station.

We got to Port Said from the buses entrance area and the rock throwing on the buses hasn’t stopped all the way to the stadium. All of this was still very normal and happens whenever we travel.

On our way into the stadium we heared that the “Masry” (Port Said team) fans attacked the Ahly players’ bus and injured Said Muawad with fireworks. In the first half of the match both parties (Ahly Ultras) and (Masry fans) were chanting hostile slogans as usual and then they started exchanging fireworks.

We started seeing “Masry” fans break into the stadium very easily from many sides of it; it increased after the first half of the game and they threw missiles at us. The only thing the police did was take them away without arresting any of those that the missiles on the “Ahly” fans. The missiles kept coming our way throughout the whole second half.

The moment the referee whistled to declare the ending of the game, the pitch was attacked in a very bizarre way from two sides; one towards the players to hit them and the other towards the “Ahly” fans in the bleachers. At this very same moment the lights went off and the stadium turned black, at that time there were two CSF security cordons along the “Ahly” bleachers and all of a sudden the cordon was opened for the “Masry” fans to go up the bleachers and attack the “Ahly” fans.

They went from the bleachers’ bottom doors that were open and went up very easily in huge numbers; not less than 2000/3000. We were in shock that the police let them do that very easily and that such large numbers are attacking us! Usually it would be swearing, fireworks and rock-throwing; it is what we do in football but that is it!

The people attacking us were armed with batons, knives, rocks, glass, fireworks and all kinds of weapons that would be used in more than a football trouble.

When we saw these numbers we knew we wouldn’t be able to deal with all of them; so we started running towards the hallways that take us to the doors in order to exit the stadium. These hallways should’ve been opened for us to leave but they were closed by the army from the outside. The area between the doors of these hallways and the main exit gates had army soldiers and we were locked in. Not even able to escape. We were besieged in the hallway and we had two choices; either die inside or outside because even if were able to make it outside the people of Port Said were waiting for us there at the main gate.

90% of the “Ahly” fans were crammed in the 6*6*10 meter; they were crammed layers on top of each other and there is no other exit and from the other side the “Masry” fans beating up everyone in their way, even the ones that fell that entirely taking place on our bleachers. It wasn’t only hitting, no. It was hitting and stealing especially phones, money and the UA07 shirts and the numbers of people in the hallways kept increasing.

Although, not everyone went down into that hallway, some people tried to jump over the fence either because they were pushed or scared. The door of the hallways fell because of all the pushing and many as people started coming out a lot of stampeding and running over others was taking place. A group went to the players’ locker room and I saw a dead man before my eyes. The people started saving each other because there was no ambulance; everyone was eventually out after about an hour.

The fool was basically made up of shoes, bags, batons, t-shirts and the fiber ceiling of the hallway was broken and fell. The interference of the CSF started taking place after 20 minutes of the riots’ start after people were already dead and after “Masry” fans started running away. After all that the army started shooting in the air on the outside in order to disperse the “Masry” fans that were waiting outside  for the “Ahly” fans to come out.

Most injuries are fractures, wounds and burns from the rocks, glass and fireworks and many suffocation cases most of it being deaths.

What happened today is either planned or has been facilitated, there is no other scenario it was a lot more than just football troubles that all the Ultras and football fans know about. What I saw today was worse than what I saw in Mohammed Mahmoud, all that happened was above anyone’s imagination.

On our way back in the train people were insisting that what happened was planned and the unharmed of us was chanting at every station against the police.

We as a whole (UA07) will make our decision and make a statement on our official facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/UltrasAhlawyCom

-----

Interview with Al-Masry captain Karim Zekri, and his brother Mohamed Zekri
(Comment Middle East)

I've edited this for length but it's worth following the link and reading the interview in full.

Quote:
[...]
What about the match? First, the club captain tells his story.

Karim: “I was in the match squad, but the manager decided not to play me from the start, which I respect, and I stayed as a substitute for the whole game. When I got onto the pitch to warm up, I noticed some thugs in the crowd. They were throwing missiles at the Ahly players while they were warming up.

“But things became more normal and the first half was played without trouble. But during half time, some fans started coming on the pitch. When I heard, I didn’t go inside for the team-talk. Instead, as club captain, I went to the police and told them that some people were coming onto the pitch. They said to me: ‘Go to them and stop them; they like you’. So I went to these people, and to my shock, they didn’t know who I was. When I told them to get back in the stands, they shouted at me and tried to hurt me. Remember, I was in my tracksuit but our tracksuit doesn’t have a badge; it looks like normal clothing, but these people didn’t know me; how could fans of the club not know the captain? It was unbelievable.

“After I tried to reason with them, the second half began, and we were behind by a goal. We scored three times, and every time we scored, some people would celebrate on the pitch, like it was a street game. Who goes onto the pitch when their team is winning, because it could get the game cancelled? Of course, maybe a few stupid fans imitated what these thugs were doing.

“In the last minutes, everyone was concentrating on the game. But as soon as the final whistle was blown, the door of the level-three stand was open, so people didn’t need to jump. They simply came down out of an open door. Tell me, who opened it? And where was the security? It drives me crazy! There was actually no army there, really. And if you look carefully at the videos, you’ll see that the people who went onto the pitch went all the way from one side of the stadium to the other, where the Ahly fans were. These people were the thugs. But we didn’t know it was going to elevate that much, so were told to go into the changing rooms, as you’d expect.”

Mohamed: “As for me, I didn’t go into the stadium, as I felt more comfortable watching on TV just outside. God seems to have planned this, so that I could witness what I witnessed. I sat at a café village which is right next to the stadium. It was three hours before kick-off, and what’s normal, is that the police close any road around the stadium, even if it was a friendly match.

“I felt something was going wrong, and these things were also confirmed to me. Firstly, there was no real searching of fans as they entered the stadium, which is really unusual. In the past, nobody could go in with a plastic water bottle. This half-hearted searching was two hours before kick-off too, but one hour before kick-off, whoever wanted to go in could just go in, whether you had a ticket or not. Tickets weren’t being checked, and there was no searching at all. Some people I met had gone in and out of the stadium with the ticket still looking perfect inside their pockets! And another thing, for the first time in the history of our town, the governor and chief of police did not attend this game.

“Anyway, the match started and I heard fireworks, but that’s quite normal. Between the two halves, there wasn’t TV coverage. I heard the stadium chanting: ‘We’re not coming down! We’re not coming down!” They were telling that minority that had gone onto the pitch that they weren’t joining them. I got really happy; I thought people are being mature.”

“Then, during the second half, I saw about ten armed thugs gathering outside the stadium, right in front of the police; there was about fifty policemen, but not a single one of them moved. The thugs had swords, and were probably hiding other weapons. But I found the response of the police really odd. Other thugs arrived in cars and some went straight round to the away stand.

“I didn’t quite know what was going on, and when the game finished, the transmission was cut off (I was watching on the terrestrial TV), but I got up to see what was going on when the stations reported the unrest. I called Karim immediately. I asked him, is it true that one person’s died? He said: not one – many.”

Karim: “Well, we’d left our changing rooms and gone to the Ahly players’ changing rooms to make sure they were ok, and there, we saw the disaster. I found corpses on the floor, and most of the deaths were from suffocation. People were squashed together and ended up dying that way. I went out of the changing rooms to help the Ahly fans get out. The floodlights had been switched off – we found out later, that this happened as soon as we’d gone in – and this was one of the main causes of the disaster because people stamped on each other. I found people on the floor and I kept taking as many out of the stadium as I could and returning. The strange thing is that, really, there were no police in the stands or in the player’s tunnel where I was taking them out from.”

Mohamed: “I found myself running towards the stadium; I wanted to be with Karim. All I was thinking was how I will get into the stadium, because there was a disaster inside, and surely, the police is reacting. I swear by God, when I got to the stadium, I found about a thousand policemen standing there, and I went straight past them and they didn’t say a word. Then I went in and found real chaos, so from the fear, I couldn’t concentrate. It was dark. Only God knows who switched the floodlights off.

“I saw Karim, he was coming out of a crowd and he was being held from all angles by half a dozen young Ahly supporters he was trying to save. And he shouted at me: ‘come on, let’s get them out!’ I thought to myself, even if I die doing it, I have to get them out no matter what; it doesn’t matter if I die. I swear by God this is what happened.

“As soon as we got out of the stadium with the first set of fans, I found lots of people from Port Said helping us and carrying Ahly fans to safety. They were asking the Ahly fans if they needed rides to Cairo or to the stations. I found it strange that these people who are supposedly killing them, are helping them at the same time.

“We took the Ahly fans to the stations in our cars; everyone we could get, we took. We’d fit seven or eight people into each car and we did many rounds. Many Masry fans did the same too. The Ahly fans were so silent; they didn’t say a word from the shock.”

Karim: “Afterwards, we found out that the gate of the away stand was completely welded in advance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cejiVFI_Uqw&), so the Ahly fans were squashed to death. And the other door, which away fans usually leave from, was closed on the Ahly fans by the police.”

Mohamed: “And I have many friends who were in the stadium, and they swear to me that the police were saying to them, ‘go and beat the s**t out of them – they’re saying you’re not men’. They’re the ones who stirred the people up, and they opened the Ahly stand from the pitch-side. This gate, it is not allowed to be opened under any circumstances. It’s different to the gate that was locked so that Ahly fans couldn’t get out, which is the gate that the fans come into the stadium from. So, when they saw the thugs coming, the Ahly fans ran towards this gate and couldn’t get out, and that’s when the stampede occurred. And let me ask you, if Masry fans are the ones who killed, how could 21 of the Masry fans die? There may have been a few animalistic idiots who joined in with the thugs, but I mean just a few. I’m telling you the truth as would please God.”
[…]
Karim: “Today (Friday), a man was arrested and he confessed about two others. He said that there were more than 600 people hired from outside Port Said, who entered the game..."
[...]
I suggest these may be rumours.

Mohamed: “Of course they’re not. We are a million per cent sure. It’ll be in the news tomorrow. And we are well connected; the people who arrested the thugs are my friends, and they refused to give him to the police because no one has faith in them any more.”

Karim: “So they questioned him, and they recorded all of this on video, and sent him to the investigative committee in Port Said, which consists of MPs whom the Parliament has ordered to find out what happened, and they’re in Port Said now.

Finally, was it planned or just allowed?

Karim: “What happened was planned, and the police and army had a role in this.”
[...]

-----

Egypt students threaten to strike demanding SCAF step down (ahramonline)

Quote:
Students of the populous Cairo University and, separately, the smaller German University in Cairo (GUC) declare they will protest and desist classes starting 11 February, on the one-year anniversary that president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down.
[…]
Cairo University faculties who said they would participate include: Commerce, Engineering, Mass Communication, Law, Medicine, Pharmaceutical and Political Science.

Students from the Cairo University Political Science and Economics faculties released a statement of mourning.

In the statement the students demanded that those responsible for the Port Said stadium killings and the killing of protesters near the Ministry of Interior and cabinet building in the past months be put on trial immediately. They also demanded that the government apparatus – whom revolutionary forces blame for the atrocities – be restructured and cleared of former regime loyalists.
[…]
Meanwhile, students of the American University in Cairo and Modern Science and Arts University also released a statement condemning the latest Port Said killings, holding the police responsible and demanding an end to military rule.

According to the Egyptian ministry of health, the death toll in clashes that broke out on Thursday between thousands of protesters in a number of Egyptian cities, angry over the Port Said massacre on Wednesday, and police forces has risen to 12 by midday Saturday.

University students support GUC call for civil disobedience (Daily News Egypt)

Quote:
Students of several universities have expressed support for the German University (GUC) Student Union’s call to participate in a general strike on Feb. 11, which could be escalated to a civil disobedience until their demands are met.

The GUC student union on Thursday demanded that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) immediately step down and hand over power to an elected civil authority. They also want withdrawal of confidence from Kamal El-Ganzoury's cabinet, holding it accountable for its crimes, and to form a revolutionary cabinet.

GUC student Karim Khouzam, freshman studying management, was among 74 killed Wednesday night in the Port Said violence following a football match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly.

The American University in Cairo (AUC) had also announced that Omar Mohsen, an economics senior slated to graduate in February, was among those killed during the violence.

"The state run media have been connecting such chaotic events to the revolution to scare people from instability. However, these events took place directly after the cancelation of the state of emergency and the interrogation of the interior minister in parliament [in which he claimed] the impossibility of a complete cancellation of emergency law," the union's statement said.

The students reiterated statements made by members of parliament in which they blamed the police, for both incompetence and complicity.

"The SCAF is seeking to systematically discipline the youth forces that have participated in the revolution," the statement added.

Activists, students call for civil disobedience on 11 February (Egypt Independent)

Quote:
Activists and students called on Facebook for civil disobedience all over Egypt starting on 11 February, the first anniversary of the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

The "Third Revolution of Anger" Facebook page was established by activists because the ruling military council "refused to listen to the opinion of the millions who took to streets on 25 January 2012 to demand handing over power to an elected president before drafting the Constitution."
 
The page called for a general strike to push the military council to leave power and expedite a peaceful transfer of power to an elected civilian authority.
 
"This is just the beginning of civil disobedience. All that is required from you is that you sit at home, and if you are obliged to go out, then strike at the company, factory, school, or university," the page said.
 
The initiative was applauded by many activists as a means of peaceful protest and a solution to help stanch the blood that has been flowing since last Wednesday, when a football disaster in Port Said killed at least 71 people.
 
Many Twitter users and popular Facebook groups adopted the initiative and put the same poster as their profile pictures to publicize the event.
 
Some revolutionary groups, trade unions and student groups supported the initiative, including the "Second Revolution of Anger," the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces and the Revolutionary Socialists.
 
Egypt's universities also called for a strike on 11 February to protest the continuing hold of the military junta onto power and in response to the Port Said disaster.

The Cairo University Student Union called for a study strike in all university faculties on 11 February, until the departure of the military and the immediate punishment of the criminals responsible for the Port Said deaths.
 
The Union of Students in Egypt issued a statement condemning the Port Said massacre, entitled "Our patience ran out."
 
The statement said that what has happened is a "major plot to abort the revolution and punish the Egyptian people on the eve of the first anniversary of the Battle of Camel," in reference to an attack on protesters last year involving armed assailants on horse and camel back.
 
The Union of Students in Egypt, which represents more than 3.5 million university students, holds the military junta and the cabinet fully and directly responsible for the lax security situation and the bloody Port Said event, said the statement.
 
It called for the hand over of power, warning of what it called "the impatience of the university street" and announced a three-day mourning period. The statement said the union canceled a press conference scheduled to be held on the regulations of the union.
 
"We, the Union of Students of Egypt, announce that our motto has become, like the motto of each student in Egypt now, 'Down with the military rule,' " it said.
 
The student unions of the German, American and French universities in Egypt issued statements expressing their sorrow over those killed in Port Said, mentioning in particular Karim Khouzam, a German University student, and Omar Mohsen, an American University student. The unions said they will participate in the general strike until the military council hands over power and the cabinet is held accountable for the Port Said disaster.

Mark.
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Joined: 11-02-07
Feb 4 2012 21:50

A year ago....

From Why it's kicking off everywhere

Paul Mason wrote:

Day of Rage, 28 January 2011
[...]
Soon the police are in full retreat, back across the bridge: the crowd has armed itself with traffic barriers and a tube-shaped metal kiosk, which they roll before them on its side like a tank. A water-cannon truck has been captured and the rioters turn this, too, into a moving barrricade. The police beat a headlong, terrified retreat. If the crowd pursuing them look like football fans, that's because many of them are: the 'ultras' of Zamalek Sporting Club.

Mahmoud, who I met in Tahrir Square a few weeks later, draped in the flag of Zamalek SC, was among them. 'There was me and about four thousand others at Qasr al-Nil bridge,' he recalled. 'It was a beautiful feeling: to know that Egypt is finally free of all the corruption, the rule of the iron fist.'

The 'ultras' - named after the notorious Italian football hooligan gangs - had organized for years in the face of police repression, at all the big soccer clubs. The police accused the ultras of fostering terrorism and organized crime, and they, in turn, found ways of getting their banners, flares and weapons into the stadiums. They would meet up at pre-arranged venues, ready to fight each other and the cops. On 28 January they were initially summoned to go and smash the demonstration, says Mahmoud, in response to rumours that it was organized by foreign agents:

Quote:
We came down to see what was the truth behind what the media had been telling us, and found it was all wrong. The club HQ kept telling us the protesters were traitors, foreigners, and urging the ultras to go down there and do something about it. But when we got there, to Tahrir, we formed our own opinion: we bonded with the protesters and became part of them.

Ultras from rival cub al-Ahly also joined in the fighting. By the end of the day numerous police cars had been torched, the headquarters of Mubarak's National Democratic Party was on fire, and protesters controlled Tahrir Square.
[...]

-----

The ultras and the Egyptian revolution (ahramonline)

‘The ultras book’: ethnography of an unusual crowd (Egypt Independent)

Quote:
When the revolution broke out, especially during last year's Battle of the Camel, whose first anniversary happens to be today, protesters realized that the ultras were the most organized fighters alongside the Muslim Brotherhood youth. Their highly organized nature makes them a difficult opponent on the battlefield, argues Beshir; and the old animosity between the ultras and Central Security Forces served as fuel for escalating the clashes in the early days of the revolution.

But the ultras have been also playing an important role in mass protests since Mubarak stepped down. During times of “peace,” knowledge that “the ultras are here” changes the vibe of any demonstration or sit-in because they are numerous, organized and simply fun to have around. They can easily transform any small demonstration into a big, loud and annoying scene that the authorities must take notice of. Hence, protesters like their presence.

The ultras' politics of fun confront tyranny (Egypt Independent)

Quote:
Wednesday’s massacre of Ahly Club fans in Port Said’s football stadium was the latest in a tragic crescendo for young Egyptians who continue to clash heavily with Egypt’s Central Security Forces.

And though the clashes have been continually analyzed since they began in January of last year, in my opinion the most important factor has yet to be discussed.

I believe we are witnessing a natural development in an inevitable conflict between two parties that have found themselves following two different paradigms of life: the paradigm of depression, control and normalization of apathy, versus that of joyful liberation from the shackles of social and institutional norms to create gratifying chaos.

The latter is what I call the politics of fun.

This conflict between two rhythms of life — one so dim it fails to realize its own fragility, stagnation and gradual extinction, and the other so young and full of life that it fails to realize the revolutionary consequences of its actions — is a useful one, and should be allowed to grow.

In fact, the chaos of the ultras, Egypt’s hardcore football fans, may play the role of waking up Egypt’s middle class, which continues to adhere to the myth of stability.

Some experts say that the ultras are a non-political group and their political power remains limited and so the entire phenomenon is not worthy of consideration.

In response, I recall the following:

When the 25 January revolution erupted, observers discovered that the only organized group in Egypt with the combative experience to deal with Central Security Forces and the Ministry of Interior was the ultras, not the Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 Youth Movement or the National Assembly for Change.

They had mastered attack and defense strategies that helped reduce losses. They knew how to sustain active resistance. This became clear in the prominent roles they played in the battles of Qasr al-Nil Bridge, Ramses Street and the "Battle of the Camel."

Their history of continual confrontation with the oppressive Ministry of Interior was thus proved to be exceptional revolutionary action.

The 25 January revolution was, in essence, a fast moving, intrepid coup against a rigid and dim rhythm of life. It’s true that the Mubarak regime’s failed economic policies and oppression by police forces were the two most prominent reasons behind the popular uprising from a political perspective, but the movement also needed a bold adventurous spirit defiant of social norms to translate the feelings and expectations of the Egyptian people into huge popular protest.

The ultras' politics of fun provided this, and thus shaped the spirit of the Egyptian revolution.
[...]

Mark.
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Feb 5 2012 00:48

Numbers (Sandmonkey)

Map of Mansour St. protest (Arabist)

-----

Clashes on 4 February:

-----

Video uploaded on 2 February:
'Students at military school chanting anti-SCAF chants'

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Feb 6 2012 00:16

Sarah Carr: Football meets politics again, but differently (Egypt Independent)

Ultras: Heroes, villains or scapegoats? (Egypt Independent)

Quote:
Yet, similar claims made by others present at the scene and corroborated by officials have not stopped certain detractors. The funeral held by the Ahly sporting club had not even ended when the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement denouncing the entire ultra movement as “hooligans” responsible for dragging the nation to the brink of the abyss. For the ultras, these accusations only add insult to a fresh and critical injury, while simultaneously channeling a current of public anger in a potentially explosive direction.

Clashes resume between protesters and security forces in downtown Cairo

Quote:
Clashes escalated between protesters and security forces at 11 pm Sunday night. Security forces intensified their use of tear gas, attacked protesters with clubs, and arrested doctors, according to protesters and reporters at the scene.

An Al-Masry Al-Youm reporter said that Interior Ministry forces assaulted protesters at the intersection of Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Noubar Street, just feet away from the Interior Ministry.

Later, the police attacked protesters with armored vehicles and tear gas.

Eyewitnesses said that three armored vehicles chased protesters while shooting them with pellets at Bab al-Louq, near the Interior Ministry. Some protesters reported seeing people run over by vehicles.

February 11 general strike in universities (Egyptian Chronicles)

Mark.
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Feb 6 2012 00:35

http://www.arabawy.org/2012/02/06/salmasaid/

Mark.
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Feb 6 2012 12:10

Eighth protester dies in downtown Cairo clashes (Egypt Independent)

Update from the Arabist blog

Quote:
I went down to the area near the Ministry of Interior this morning (on both the protestors' side and the police's side) to see the new fortifications built in the last day or two. Two whole new concrete block walls have been built on Nubar St. and Mansour St., the main sites of confrontation in the last few days, but there were still a few hundred protestors shouting slogans against SCAF on Mohammed Mahmoud St. That makes it a total of four concrete walls blocking major Cairo thoroughfares, not counting the one on Mohammed Mahmoud St. that was destroyed a few days ago.

As this Ahram article notes, the police have gained the upper hand and returned the fighting to Mohamed Mahmoud, where it is fairly contained. Of course large swathes of Downtown Cairo now look pretty apocalyptic, and local residents are not happy. I was talking to some people this morning and an elderly bearded man came who was pretty unhappy, and accused journalists like of making money off the pictures we take of all the fighting (which I suppose is true in a literal sense, but he meant it in terms of we're being paid to sully Egypt's image). I got out of there pretty quickly. No surprise that things are tense, and I'm sure the residents of Downtown Cairo think the protestors are hooligans.

This morning it was basically back to the situation in this last pic, taken two days ago, with uneasy tension between the police on the eastern side of Mohammed Mahmoud St. and the protestors from the Western side, leading to Tahrir. There have been multiple attempts at mediation that could still work, but I suspect it's not until we see some major political developments that the protests will ease. There are indications this is coming:

● The Council of Advisors to SCAF is calling for early presidential elections and some of its members have resigned

● MPs are increasingly also calling for early presidential elections, and signs of dissent on the issue have started among the FJP MPs – perhaps forcing the hand of the Muslim Brothers

● An early presidential election should mean that the writing of the constitution will be for after the election, again removing some SCAF influence from the process

● SCAF is making panicked moves that only seem to confirm its mistakes: moving Mubarak to a regular prison, separating the political prisoners from the former regime, imposing travel bans on personalities seen as close to the Mubaraks, etc.

The bottom line to all this is that SCAF appears to be losing credibility in the general public's eye – this is what an early presidential elections means – and hence its bargaining power is quite constrained. That's the case even if people will tire of protests. The danger at this point is that SCAF uses other issues, such as the prosecution of foreign NGOs, in order to divert attention away or even foment the conspiracy theory of a foreign hand being behind all the troubles. I don't think that Sam LaHood is about to be accused of being behind the Port Said stadium disaster, but unfortunately there is a lot of conspiracy theorizing on all sides – as if the football fans were not at least partly responsible for the disaster themselves, and only SCAF/regime remnants/invisible hands can be held responsible for things. This passing of the buck is a worrying aspect of the mentality of Egyptians on both sides of the revolution/stability divide, unfortunately. 

Mark.
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Feb 6 2012 11:45

Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions

Statement 1 – 2012

The bloody events in Port Sa’id

Quote:
The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions has followed the terrible massacre which took place in the stadium at Port Sa’id and which left its victims among the innocent young people who came to watch a football match and not to take part in a battle between warring armies. The federation affirms that the cold-blooded killing of Egyptians in Port Sa’id is a continuation of the same massacres which our people have faced as a result of the conspiracies of the old regime and its supporters, beginning with the massacre at the Two Saints Church which the former regime carried out to cover up its forgery of the parliamentary election results in 2010, and in the same context as the massacre of revolutionaries in the streets of Egypt during the 25 January revolution, and the massacres at Maspero, and Mohammed Mahmoud Street and the Cabinet Offices.

The murders of Egyptians will go on, so long as the murderers remain at large, and while their leaders face only mock trials. These crimes will continue so long as not one criminal has been punished and until a revolutionary tribunal has been created which will prosecute all those involved in the killing or injury of Egyptians, whether the offender is civilian or military, and regardless of their status, position or rank.

The punishment of the criminals is retribution for the blood of the martyrs and the injured and will deter criminals in general, which is the very sanction we want to impose.

We demand the following:

1. The return of the military to their barracks and the immediate restoration of civilian rule.

2. The resignation of the Ganzoury government which is a continuation of the old regime and a collaborator in all its crimes, especially its economic crimes in selling off the people’s assets in the form of its factories, and forcing the best of our workers into early retirement.

3. The formation of a national salvation government from the revolutionary forces.

4. Resignation of the General Prosecutor who is a creature of Mubarak, who has never taken any decision against Mubarak who appointed him along with his gang.

5. The formation of a revolutionary tribunal to try the old regime and all its branches which are spread through all the institutions and which continue to carry out the policies of the old regime.

The Federation does not simply make these demands but will work to achieve them by all legitimate means, including the general strike which we previously organised in support of the Egyptian Revolution which is today facing many dangers, while the governments have done nothing to achieve any of the goals of the revolution nor to meet any of the revolution’s demands, the most important of which is the achievement of social justice, even though an entire year has passed.

This is our warning: “The revolution will not go backwards”

Long live the Egyptian Revolution!

Long live the unity of Egyptians!

Death to the killers!

Eternal glory to the martyrs!

The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions

Mark.
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Feb 6 2012 23:37

Egypt activists call for general strike on #Feb11 (Arabist)

Labor groups to join strike planned for 11 February (Egypt Independent)

Quote:
One-hundred-and-twenty labor groups have announced their intention to participate in a general strike planned for 11 February, the anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak’s departure, to pressure the military council to hand over power.

The strike also demands justice for Egypt’s martyrs, the trial of the former President and his aides before a revolutionary tribunal, and the purging of corruption from state institutions.

It calls on people not to go to work that day (save for humanitarian emergencies), to protest the recent bloodshed, and to refrain from paying taxes and utility bills as a means of civil disobedience.

Among the participating groups are the Independent Workers Union, the Egyptian Workers Conference Movement, the Sadat City Workers Union, the Tenth of Ramadan City Workers Union and the Textile Workers Trade Committees.

http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23EgyStrike

http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23Feb11

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Feb 8 2012 00:38

Anti-army video calling for Egypt general strike

Arabist wrote:
This video, put out by Aalam Wassef, is one of the most daring and well-made I've seen yet by the anti-SCAF movement. The basic narrative is that the SCAF represents a military that has run Egypt into the ground for some sixty years, while enjoying the fruits of its economic empire, luxury hospitals, clubs etc. It calls for a boycott of military-produced products and a general strike on February 11.

In Arabic, without subtitles, but still fairly self-explanatory.

Edit: replaced with subtitled version:

Mark.
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Feb 7 2012 20:47

Armed attacks by civilians on protesters raises nationwide death toll to 15 (ahramonline)

wojtek
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Feb 8 2012 16:56

Some photographs here:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/02/egypt_protests_over_port_said.html

Mark.
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Feb 9 2012 12:39

Maspero employees protest military control

Egypt Cinema Syndicate joins call for civil disobedience

Thursday's papers: All eyes on civil disobedience plans

Egypt deploys soldiers, tanks ahead of strike

Quote:
Egypt's ruling generals have deployed additional soldiers and tanks across the country in preparation for the anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak's ouster from power on 11 February.
[…]
More patrols will be deployed across the country to "maintain the security ... of public, private and state buildings," said a statement issued by the ruling military council on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Sami Enan, the armed forces chief of staff, urged Egyptians to "protect the security and stability of the country through work and production," the state news agency MENA reported.

Prime Minister Kamal Al-Ganzouri told a press conference that calls for civil disobedience were part of a plan to "overthrow the state" and all Egyptians should unite to get through the crises and dangers the country was facing.

Al-Azhar, a prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning, also criticised the calls for civil disobedience, the state-owned Al-Ahram news portal reported … Pope Shenouda, head of the Orthodox Coptic church, said the civil disobedience was against religion.
[…]
Troops and tanks began appearing at various strategic points in Cairo on Wednesday evening.

Mark.
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Feb 10 2012 00:19

Protests across the country for better working, living conditions (Egypt Independent)

Egypt revolutionary groups call for Friday push on defence ministry (ahramonline)

Call for open-ended strike divides Egypt (Reuters)

General strike not civil disobedience, activists say (Daily News Egypt)

Quote:
According to Kamal Khalil, one of the founders of the Revolutionary Socialists movement and founder of the Farmers and Workers Party, a general strike is a legitimate right for protesters to express their demands.
[…]
"The general strike is a tool to develop our revolution and take it a step forward. It is the swift weapon that would achieve the goals of the revolution," Khalil said.

For the strike to have maximum effect, he said, there should be a united leadership that gathers all sectors of the society around unified demands in a democratic decision-making process.

"The only condition that is still missing is the cohesive leadership, but we should seek to create it as the strike on Feb. 11 would only be a trial for what's ahead," he said.

Khalil added that there might be another strike on Feb. 21, led by million man marches by university students, another on March 9 on the anniversary of the 1919 revolution and on Labor Day on May 1.

"Over about 40 days, [each] strike would be the thermometer of the [following] one and how the students, labor movements and independent syndicates would act," he said.

Mostafa Basiouny, member of the Revolutionary Socialists, said that the strike needs solidarity committees, coordination committees and general supreme committees that represent all sectors of society and represent the strike.

"Later on, these committees can administer the work in the country and become the authority as we don't need outsiders," he said.

According to the Revolutionary Socialists, the slogan that will be raised in the strike is "the square, the university and the factory are one hand".

In response, state institutions and officials have condemned all such calls.

Mark.
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Feb 10 2012 12:51

Protesters head to Tahrir Square for 'Friday of Departure' (ahramonline)

http://twitter.com/#!/3arabawy

Mark.
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Feb 11 2012 13:10

Pro-SCAF protestors attack activist during march on Defense Ministry (Egypt Independent)

Defence ministry marches wrap up without serious incident (ahramonline)

Egypt braces for strikes to mark Mubarak's ouster (AFP)

Mark.
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Feb 11 2012 16:33

Yesterday

Reports coming out so far today suggest limited support for the general strike call.

Universities, schools take part in general strike, govt institutions at work (Egypt Independent)

Quote:
[...]
At Cairo, Ain Shams and Alexandria universities thousands of students staged protests demanding Egypt's military leaders step down.
[...]
Hundreds of students from Collège de la Salle and Jesuit schools marched to support the strike. Students from Jesuits carried a symbolic coffin for a student named Karim Khouzam, one of the 74 fans killed in the Port Said football massacre last month.

In Sadat City, truck drivers blocked Kafr Dawoud Sadat for an hour this morning to show that they are participating in the general strike, as stated by the independent labor group Center for Trade Union & Workers Services (CTUWS).

CTUWS said that workers in the mechanized agriculture sector, who number 6,000, are participating in the strike nationwide.

Meanwhile approximately 2,000 temporary workers at the Naga Hammadi Irrigation Department organized an open-ended protest to push for permanent jobs, and seven hundred temporary workers at the Health Department in Qena organized an open-ended strike to call for permanent contracts.

But Egypt at large appeared calm Saturday and eyewitnesses in Cairo and other cities said the calls for civil disobedience have not been heeded and government institutions are working as usual.

Metro trains and railways kept to schedule, state TV reported on Saturday, while state news agency MENA said Suez Canal and nationwide airports are functioning normally.
[...]

Egypt not yet on strike (ahramonline)

Quote:
Reports show few organisations have participated in 11 February general strike, despite nation-wide calls for industrial action from workers' unions, political groups and student unions. However, since Saturday is for many an extension of the weekend, it is still not known how successful the call for a general strike may become.

There are conflicting reports about public sector strikes. According to the Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services, employees and drivers of Egypt's underground metro have started a slowdown strike. However the Minister of Transportation made statement on Saturday early afternoon confirming that all public transportation was functioning regularly.
[…]
The Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services confirmed a few instances of strike action. The Nage Hamadi aluminum plant in Upper Egypt is planning to join the national strike following the Saturday 3pm shift.  

700 health workers have also reportedly started a strike in Qena. In addition, several truck drivers blocked the Kafr Daoud road into Sadat city early Saturday morning in solidarity with the strike, hindering the work of the city's factories, although most are not operating because Saturday is a weekend. 

Some sectors have declared that they are still discussing whether or not to join the strikes. Kamal El-Fayoumi, trade unionist from Mahala Spinning and Weaving Factory, told Ahram Online that workers at his factory are undecided.

El-Fayoumi explained that since none of the factory's demands have been met, despite a year of negotiations, they are considering joining the call to strike. He also added that they are planning a demonstration in solidarity with the national industrial action at the end of their Saturday shift. Meanwhile, workers at the Ministry of Agriculture forestation sector have already declared they will be starting strike on Sunday.

Although Saturday is part of the weekend for most schools, this is not the case for several Catholic schools who take Sunday off instead. Dozens of students from these academic institutions led marches on Saturday against military rule instead of attending classes.

Students from eight different schools, including Jesuites, Sacre Coeur, Mere de dieu, College de la Salle, Notre Dame, Saint-Anne, Ramses College, New Ramses College and German School in Bab El-Louq, marched together with several teachers and parents demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hands over power to a civilian government.

Several universities have also planned marches in solidarity with the call to strike. Hundreds of students demonstrated at Cairo University, Ains Shams University, Alexandria University and Assiut University. However, Ahram Online reporter observed that some students still attended classes.

30 university student unions announced earlier they would be taking part in the general strike, including Cairo University, Helwan University, the Modern Academy, Alexandria University, Ain Shams University, Nile University and the American University in Cairo (AUC). However, not all will be starting strike on Saturday as it is a day off for many.
[…]

Edit: more reports from ahramonline

General strike calls face counter-propaganda before action begins

Private school's students march on first day of strike

Sokhna port's workers to strike on Sunday

Mark.
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Feb 11 2012 19:16

Cairo University students on strike

Arrests in Mahalla - including union organiser Kamal el-Fayoumi

Mark.
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Feb 12 2012 12:14

From the Egypt Independent

Sunday's papers: Schadenfreude at civil disobedience 'failure'

Organizers say Egypt general strike successful

Not sure about about the conclusion but I thought this blog post was interesting:

How much is that revolution in the window?

Quote:
As the revolution continues in Cairo, demonstrators are surrounding the Interior Ministry and filling downtown with anti-SCAF slogans. Tear gas regularly fills the air and there’s no longer any doubt that the police, or at least the plain clothes baltagiyya (thugs) employed by the police, have been using birdshot to disperse the crowds. Outspoken blogger Selma Said’s admission to Qasr al Aini hospital with a face peppered with cartridge shrapnel is the most recent in a slew of casualties. The men and women bravely putting their lives on the line in downtown Cairo are fighting for freedom from oppression not only for themselves, but for all Egyptians. And rightly so. 

But the demographic of the protestors doesn’t reflect those most in need. The protestors take photos on their iphones, upload them onto twitter and publish blogsite articles before they’ve even left the front line. They are armed not only with the power of technology, but also with the intellectual conviction of their ideas and, in some cases, the English to be able to explain it to the rest of the world. 

Meanwhile the majority of Egyptians can’t even afford to take the time off work to participate.

The horrifying truth is that taking the day off to protest is a luxury that most can’t afford. Taking to the streets can represent the difference between your family eating dinner or going hungry that day. In some parts of the Nile Delta for example, earning ten Egyptian pounds ($1.65) a day would be considered a good wage. If a kilo of beef shoulder meat from the local butcher costs 50 Egyptian pounds, the best that a relatively well-off family in the Delta could expect is to eat meat once or twice a month.

This is not a criticism of the protestors in the streets. Their demands and their need for change are important too; they have been deeply wronged by the perpetuation of government negligence and corruption. If anything, the shackles of the working class highlight the desperate need for the protestors to stand up in defence of those for whom protest is impossible. 

One year ago today (11th Feb) Hosni Mubarak stepped down. His resignation came after eighteen days of unprecedented public protest and enormous labour strikes that ground the economy to a halt. To mark the anniversary of his departure, a general strike had been arranged to express the workers’ continuing dissatisfaction with their lack of protection and abysmal wages. The national transport authority, the train drivers union and countless factories announced they would not go into work today. 

Sadly, the strike was not as large as most would have hoped. And the reason is simple enough: The government, the army and factory owners have together, over the past few weeks, waged a campaign of intimidation threatening workers with being fired if they don’t show up. 

And so the ruling class’ triumph is complete: the price of putting pressure on the status quo to improve basic living standards has in itself become too expensive. Sacrificing unionised rights and political freedom for the meantime is worth the four pieces of bread, the handful of vegetables and the packet of cigarettes that a day’s wage can afford.  

The responsibility of voicing the demands of those most trapped in the cycle of poverty therefore falls on the middle classes. Marx was never more right than when he said: ‘Those who cannot represent themselves must be represented’.

Mark.
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Feb 12 2012 22:39

Calls for general strike see limited appeal (Daily News Egypt)

Second day of student strikes (ahramonline)

Ultras Ahlawy call for Wednesday march on prosecutor's office (ahramonline)

Mark.
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Feb 13 2012 12:48

Hossam el-Hamalawy at the American University in Cairo, 12 February 2012

Mark.
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Feb 13 2012 23:15

Jano Charbel: Journalist, student and translator detained for two days in Mahalla

Egypt's Sokhna Port paralysed as labour strike enters 2nd day (ahramonline)

Mark.
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Feb 14 2012 10:38
Quote:
Freelance reporter Austin Mackell was freed on Monday along with a US student and their Egyptian translator after two days in detention.

They had been picked up in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla on Saturday, the same day activists held student strikes to mark the first anniversary of ex-president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.
[…]
He said he was moved several times during his detention and could hear people being tortured in the cells surrounding his, with a police officer at one point showing him mobile phone footage of the army torturing somebody.
[…]

http://news.yahoo.com/australian-tells-torture-egypt-055546053.html

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Feb 15 2012 23:58

Ultras Ahlawy stage mass march to demand justice for Port Said victims (ahramonline)

Was 11 February a failure? (Egypt Independent)

Did Egypt's general strike really fail? (ahramonline)

The state run unions, loyal servants of SCAF (3arabawy)

Will Egypt's workers rise up again? (Global Mail)