Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Riots in Egypt

There’s rioting in the streets.  In Egypt in a town called Mahalla, but it’s starting to reach out to other parts of the country.

      It all started two days ago, when a nationwide strike was called by a number of political parties and worker movements to protest their low income, the skyrocketing cost of living, and the open corruption and blatant nepotism of the Egyptian government. All eyes that day were on Mahalla, which was supposed to kick-start the strike by having its 30,000 textile factory workers go to the factory and stage a sit-in. The security forces in charge immediately rounded up the strike leaders, pressuring some of the weaker ones to accept a compromise. They also arrested and isolated every other strike organizer who wouldn’t budge. The government forced the workers to work at the point of a gun, and announced that the strike was canceled. This rang true until the workers got off work and found their union leaders detained and arrested. They then started confronting the security forces, which lead to clashes that lasted till midnight that day and led to two casualties and some 95 arrests.

      The following day, yesterday, around 2,000 demonstrators demonstrated peacefully in front of the police station, demanding the release of their detained co-workers, relatives, and friends. The Egyptian police responded by shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators, and attacking them physically. When word of this reached the demonstrators’ family members and friends, they responded by taking to the streets and attacking the security forces wherever they could find them. The people threw rocks at the security forces, destroyed their cars, and tore down the pictures of Mubarak all over the city. The security forces continued shooting and arresting people, all the while sending plain-clothed police thugs to destroy stores and ransack schools. This was done in order to make it look like as if the people were destroying everything in their path and had to be cracked down on and stopped. The death toll rose to 5 the second night (including a 12 year-old and a 15 year-old), while the arrest total rose to 195. Countless people were injured.

The government is trying to clamp down, and has a 24 hour curfew and no journalists allowed.  I’ll paint this one simple for you.  Long ruling tyrannical despot vs. people tired of living in squalid conditions.  Keep your eyes on this and don’t forget the people of Egypt.

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