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30,000+ Workers in Mahalla Egypt Riot, Security Apparatus kill several and injure hundreds.
Various | April 6th, 7th, 8th, 2008 | Various

Posted on 04/08/2008 4:54:32 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander

Violent Riots Hit Egypt 

PJM Cairo: Angry demonstrators have been clashing with police as a nationwide strike has turned into a protest against the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

April 8, 2008 - by "Sandmonkey"

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Joyous rioting in the streets. Stores destroyed. Government buildings ransacked. Pictures of the long-ruling tyrannical leader of this middle-eastern country were stepped on. The footage of what was taking place was simply exhilarating, with people expressing the hatred they felt toward their ruler for the first time in over a quarter-century. If you think I’m describing Iraq after the fall of Saddam, you are mistaken. This is happening in Egypt — in a small delta city called Mahalla el-Kobra to be exact — where that aforementioned dictator is still alive and very much in power.

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.

On Tuesday, the government instituted a security clampdown on Mahalla. No one is allowed in and out of the city, including journalists. A 24-hour curfew is in effect, with the threat of immediate arrest and torture for anyone who violates it for any reason. The government also announced that they are looking to detain around 175 more people before this is over. A number of Egyptian NGOs are already starting a legal team and a defense fund to help those detained by the government, and the political forces that organized this strike are planning a second one on May 4th, which is President Mubarak’s Birthday.

The news of what took place in Mahalla is now spreading all over Egypt, with the pictures of their stand against state forces circulating across the internet. There is a sense of dread among those who are following the news. They fear what will happen to those who dare revolt against the government and wonder whether or not the spirit of their revolt will survive the crackdown. There are also those who fear that the severity of the clampdown will frighten the people into complicity and discourage them from revolting again. The answers to those questions are elusive at the moment, but they should be crystal clear to anyone who wonders on the day of May 4th. Whether it’s a fluke or a start of something more, one thing is certain: as far as the common Egyptian is concerned, the people of Mahalla’s revolt has now became the stuff of legend.

Sandmonkey is a pseudonymous blogger living in Egypt. He is the author of the blog Rantings of a Sandmonkey.


08/04/2008 > EGYPT

"It's this kind of revolt that can turn into a revolution" 

20080408 Mahalla T.jpg

Protesters tear down a picture of Mubarak. Photo by Mohamed Gaber.

What was supposed to be a workers' strike turned into violent riots in northeastern Egypt on Sunday resulting in 150 arrests, around 100 injured and at least one dead. Our Observers in the country explain why.

The chaos broke out on the day that spinning and weaving workers from the Nile Delta city of Mahalla el-Kobra threatened to strike over demands to increase the monthly minimum wage of only 115 Egyptian pounds (€15). Although the strike was called off, tensions over low pay, rapidly increasing prices and distrust of the upcoming local elections (held Tuesday) brought the city to boiling point. The riots calmed during the day on Tuesday following mass arrests, but are suspected to continue again at night.

The contributors

Abdul Monem ...

Joel Beinin

"It's this kind of revolt that can turn into a revolution"

Abdul Monem Mahmud, 28, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic extremist group that is officially banned in Egypt but tolerated. He works as a journalist for al-Dustour and writes the blog Ana Ikhwan (I'm a part of the Muslim Brotherhood).

"The people are rebelling. People who are hungry and demand that someone take interest in them. The parties and unions are involved in the demonstrations, but they are not controlling them. It's not a political movement.

I talk with a lot of people, especially at the market. They tell me that they're not against Mubarak. They're not demanding democracy; but just to eat. Most people don't have more than 150 Egyptian pounds a month (18 euros) to keep their families alive. That's not enough. People are hungry, so they're rebelling. And it's this kind of revolt that can turn into a revolution.

We at the Muslim Brotherhood don't trust the elections organised by those in power. And the people don't either. We tried to get our candidates into the local elections, but the government disqualified almost all of them. They only validated 21, when there are 50,000 seats to be filled in the election. The ruling party controls everything. Citizens vote, but it's the chief of police who puts the ballot slips in the box."

"The security forces were throwing rocks at the demonstrators"

Joel Beinin is head of the American University in Cairo's Middle East Studies Department. He went to Mahalla on Sunday and saw the riots firsthand:

There was a Facebook group of 66,000 people agreeing to take part in the strike, but the committee called it off. Younger campaigners didn't like that. So at half past three on Sunday, the factory workers finished their shift and came out into the square. A demonstration broke out, mainly over price increases. In the end the security forces were throwing rocks at the demonstrators. When it got really intense I left the area. I came back a bit later and fires had been started; people said that schools were being burnt down. Security started trying to disperse the crowds so I felt it was time to go [out of the city]. We got in the car to head back, but as we left the city on the Mahalla - Tanta road, there was a fire lit across it. It was very neat so we guessed it had been lit by the authorities. It was being used to block off the whole town and there were troops heading into the city. We were being boxed in. We managed to find a detour out and head back to Cairo. Now the whole place is sealed off."

Photos taken on Sunday in Mahalla

The beginning of the protest.

Troops head in to quash the protests.

Photos by journalist James Buck.


We have come to see the Day? 

(Picture by Nasser Nouri, via Hamalawy )

Ammar, when he saw this picture, had one comment to make : Hopefully one day we will have this too in Syria.

Yeah, I hope so too Ammar.

The Mhalla riots are going into their second strong day. 50,000 people are rioting. The police is shooting tear gas, rubber bullets, you name it, and IT’S NOT WORKING. The demonstrators were originally only like 2000-3000, but the government crackdown forced the people on the street. And until today, it’s a War Zone.

Here is a picture of one of the feared State Security trucks, commandeered and smashed by the people.

For impeccable coverage of the riots, check Hossam’s blog.

Update: Another picture that makes my hearts swell, by James Buck.

Sea of people. Makes my skin tingle!

My friend R. from the US just sent me a message : "I’m proud of the people of Mahalla but so scared about what’s coming to them. actually terrified"

We shall see R. , I am keeping my fingers crossed!

All I know is this though, for the first time in over 50 years, yesterday AlMahalla was a free city!

Update: This is response to some people in the comments section, you can ignore this if you want to:

Okay, both of you are acting like idiots. First of all, Mahalla is not a MB stronghold, no more than any other city is. The MB’s power is greatly exaggerated and hyped, and they are too chicken to be behind this revolt. If anything they are distancing themselves from it and criticizing the actions of the Mahalla people. So no, that’s not what’s going on. What’s happening is that the people there are ignored and fed up, and refsue to shut up while their family members and friends get arrested. They have a semblance of diginity that has somehow eluded the rest of the population. So, yes, we should encourage this.

Secondly, if you are following what’s happening there as much as I am, here is something you might not know: The people are not the ones burning stores and cars; the police is. It’s being done to be used as pretext to arresting people, The people are setting tires on fire and throwing rocks at the police who are unlawfully arresting their friends, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at them and have killed so far 4 people, the last of which is a 15 year old boy, who got shot in the head. The people are finally pushing back against a regime you both know is autocratic and tyrannical, and yet you only take issues with them refusing to eat shit. That, on its own, says volumes about you.

Thirdly, and most importantly, allow yourselves to enjoy those brief moments of joy before the get crushed, as they’re going to. If this spreads, then the regime will spare no expense to squash it, especially with the visible absence of the western media and their coverage. Without international cover, this won;t survive, and the government will fuckin air bomb the demonstrators if they truly became a threat to the regime. The point isn’t the overthrow of the government, not yet. It’s a warning shot, letting them know that they can’t get away with this shit much longer, that the corruption must stop, that political liberties must be respected and that the mismanagement of the economy can not continue. That the people won’t just bend over and take it anymore. That they better change or this might breed the revolution you so rightly fear. But that won;t happen today, or next week, so please, quit your whining, worrying and bitching about the protesters, and start fearing for their lives. Those people have almost nothing and are risking what little they have for a chance for a better life. Nobody asked you to act like them, nobody asked you to support them, but at least try to respect them. They earned that much!



I’ve spoken with an activist in Mahalla, where it’s almost 2pm now. The city is under police occupation, but since last night, it’s been quiet.

Try to imagine what the pictures you see of Palestinian towns under occupation… Mahalla is similar to that now. Soldiers, armored vehicles, firetrucks.. Since last night the clashes ended. But who knows, everything may change in a second. The morning shift went in by 7:30am. The production in the factory is still on as I’m talking to you now. We will see how things develop.

Families of detainees have assembled in front of the town’s police stations, trying to see them and bring them food, clothes…
There were unconfirmed reports that Kareem el-Beheiri was detained by the police sometime at night, but Nora says that the reports were merely rumors

In other news, The Egyptian Workers and Trade Unions Watch issued a report on the industrial action in February… Some stats from the report: 42,000 workers took part in either strikes, sit-ins or demonstrations during that month, while 54,000 workers threatened to do the same… The month also witnessed 22 sit-ins, 13 demonstrations and 10 strikes…
More later…

UPDATE: CLASHES started again at 4pm…

UPDATE: Blogger Ahmad Abdel Fattah called from Mahalla.. “This govt wants to kill us and kill everyone here. The demonstrations are strong. Clashes are happening again with the police. I can hardly breath from the teargass. I’ll send you photos soon.”

UPDATE: I’ve spoken to a Socialist activist in Mahalla.. He says around 4pm a 2000-strong demonstration started in El-Bahr Street in Mahalla. The protesters were chanting against the govt, price increases, police brutality.. The troops cracked down on the demonstration, but that hardly made the demonstrators disperse.. Instead, over the course of an hour, the protest grew to something between 40 to 50,000, according to the activist… It’s passed 7pm now in Mahalla. There is not one demonstration, but several.. Most of the demonstrators’ chants are against the govt and calling for the release of those detained yesterday… The police renewed its crackdown, and arrests are being conducted now.

UPDATE: I received an email from Droubi:

Sharkawy was harassed at 6th of October police station by maba7eth [Police]. He was hit but no injuries reported; except that he’s really pissed off! He is currently at the public prosecutor’s in 6th of October awaiting a decision; he was not questioned again today. Apparently all male detainees were hit overnight.

UPDATE: Listen to the chants of the protesters in Mahalla… “Hey Gamal [Mubarak]! Tell your dad, Mahalla will fuck him…” while in this video, the Mahalla citizens are chanting: “Hosni [Mubarak]! Fuck you!”

UPDATE: I received the following statement from the Center for Socialist Studies

In light of recent events in Egypt yesterday April 6, 2008, the Center for Socialist Studies calls on supporters of freedom and justice everywhere in the world to show there support for victims of repression in Egypt. Mount pressure on the Egyptian dictatorship to release more than 800 detained yesterday including; more than 150 political activists (socialists, liberals, and Islamists), more than 600 protestors from Mahallah (mainly women and children) and Mahalah strike Committee leaders Kamal El-Faioumy and Tarek Amin- who are facing serious allegations of agitation which can lead to long prison sentences.
On the background of a call for strike on April 6th in Mahallah textile complex by the workers, political forces decided to support the strike through parallel symbolic work stoppage and peaceful protests. However, the Mubarak regime in retaliation decided to occupy El-Mahalla complex with security forces, abduct strike committee leaders Kamal El-Faioumy and Tarek Amin, arrest political activists of every political tendency in Cairo and other cities. Not able to suppress the protests, the Mubarak security forces used rubber-bullets, tear-gas, and live ammunition against Mahallah people who decided to protest on the streets of the city and in different villages, leaving at least two dead and hundreds injured.
As fighters in this struggle, the Center for Socialist Studies, calls on all activists and supporters of freedom and justice everywhere in the world to support us in our fight. The inspirational fight of the Egyptian working class over the past 18 months, which culminated in El-Mahllah events and the mass protests of yesterday –and the terrified reactions of the Mubarak regime- have proved our faith in the centrality of the working class to liberate Egypt from dictatorship and exploitation.
We call upon you circulate the news about the maximum repression and violence of the Mubarak regime, which left at least two killed in Mahallah, including a 9-year old boy. We call upon you to organize rallies and protests in front of the Egyptian embassy where you live and to send protest messages and letters against the Mubarak regime.
Long live the struggle of the working class!

UPDATE: The confirmed deaths in Mahalla go up to 4 martyrs till now. The police continued for the second day cracking down on protesters, who used molotov cocktails and rocks, in scenes reminiscent of the Palestinian intifada… Tadamon reports that the mass demonstrations today was targeting Mahalla’s Police Station where many of the detainees are locked up. Tadamon puts the number of demonstrators at 20,000. However two Socialist activists who took part in the protests insist the numbers were higher and go up to 40 or 50,000.
Here’s also a report from the Daily News Egypt by our friend Sarah Carr…

Public prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud announced Monday that 157 people involved in the demonstrations which erupted in Mahalla on Sunday have been charged with a range of offences including riotous assembly and criminal damage.
Violence again erupted in the town on Monday. Protests began in the afternoon at around 4 pm, in a repeat of yesterday’s events when thousands of Mahalla residents and workers in the Ghazl El-Mahalla textile factory took to the streets following the afternoon shift.
Protestors are angry about the collapse of a strike in the Ghazl El-Mahalla factory, planned for Sunday but which was aborted after intimidation by security bodies and internal divisions between workers.
During yesterday’s demonstrations violent clashes occurred between members of security bodies and protestors. According to Mahmoud, the clashes resulted in the injury of 35 demonstrators, 26 policemen and three senior officers.
The public prosecutor denied rumours that fatalities occurred during yesterday’s demonstrations.
Activist websites had published reports that two people had been killed when security bodies used teargas and live ammunition to contain the demonstration.
Mahmoud also said that eleven shops and two schools were damaged during yesterday’s protests.
An eyewitness who was in Mahalla on Monday told Daily News Egypt that the situation remains extremely tense.
“Relatives of people who have been arrested started a procession from the public prosecution office in Mahalla to the Shona Square,” said Ahmed Ghazi, a lawyer with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
“Young men ripped down a poster of [President] Mubarak in the square and set it alight,” he continued.
“Security bodies are using teargas and firing ammunition at the crowd and both protestors and members of security bodies have been injured,” Ghazi said.

Photographer and friend Nasser Nouri was in Mahalla on Sunday, and was shot in the leg by a rubber bullet. Despite being in so much pain, Nasser continued reporting on Monday, limbing his way around the rough streets in Mahalla, taking shots of the riots as well as the police violence. Click below to watch a couple of the photos he took today of the Mahalla heroes smashing Mubarak’s posters…


UPDATE: Prosecutor ordered the detention of blogger Mohamed el-Sharqawi and Kefaya’s Mohamed el-Ashqar for 15 days pending investigation… Meanwhile, the Textile Workers’ League activists Kamal el-Fayoumi and Tarek el-Senoussi are locked up in the notorious State Security local office in Mahalla, while reports are conflicting whether Ghazl el-Mahalla blogger Kareem el-Beheiri was detained or did he “disappear.” A solidarity committee has been set up to support the detainees.. WE NEED DONATIONS FOR THE DETAINEES in Cairo, Mahalla and the other provinces.. If you are in Cairo, just go to the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (1 Souq el-Tawfiqiya St) and see how you can help…

UPDATE: Zeinobia continues blogging the protests and monitoring the local press, while Per Björklund is twittering from Mahalla

UPDATE: The 6th of April Strike Blog reports with photos on a spontaneous protest in front of Cairo’s Abdeen Court, and receives health complaints from Mahalla over the pigs’ showering the city with teargass bombs…

UPDATE: Click below to watch more photos of Day 2 of the Mahalla riots, taken by James Buck…

Down with Mubarak

“You can feel there were support for the demonstrators among the citizens,” James told me over the phone. “Whenever police attacked the crowds, you always found residents opening up their homes for those who are trying to escape.”

UPDATE: Click below to watch some photos and read a report by Jano Charbel on the second day of rioting in Mahalla…

Rocks and Fires

UPDATE: It’s confirmed Kareem el-Beheiri is in police custody. He was spotted at the Tanta Prosecutor’s office where he’s undergoing interrogation… Below is a portrait I took of Kareem last January…

Kareem el-Beheiri كريم البحيري

UPDATE: Blogger Ahmad Abdel Fattah sent me some photos video clips from Mahalla… Click below…

Down with Mubarak!



And finally, a photographer posted all of his images from Mahalla online at :



TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Israel
KEYWORDS: egypt; mahalla; mhalla; mubarak; muslimbrotherhood
Seems like a very intense situation, from what I've read, several million Arabic-fluent web users have seen and read and viewed the media coverage here, the residents of Al-Mahalla are being built into folk heroes across the Arab world.
1 posted on 04/08/2008 4:55:07 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: JerseyHighlander

This will be all over ABCNNBCBS real soon, now.

2 posted on 04/08/2008 5:01:17 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: JerseyHighlander

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

When pictures speaks louder than words - Mahalla

In solidarity with the people and textile workers of Mahalla and activists, including bloggers arrested before, during and after the General strike. I want to point to Per Bjorklund´s photos from Mahalla.
Police using tear gas and rubber bullets on it´s citizens, is an ample description of the state´s attitude towards it´s people. To them Egyptians are only subjects that are supposed to do what they are told. We are still very far from an inclusive understanding of citizenry, where people have both rights and obligations, and not the other way around, that is the state have every right to do whatever it deems necessary to protect it´s interest, but no obligations what so ever. The social contract is broken over and over again. A basic right is the right to strike, of course due to the ever present Emergency laws, those righs are infringed upon. It will be interesting to see if that will change, when the EL is supposed to be replaced by the new anti-terrorism law this coming May. I´m quite sure that all of us can figure out the answer to that question..

UPDATE: Authorities confirmed today that 15-year-old Ahmed Hamada died in the clashes, presumably Monday. He is the only confirmed fatal casualty by the authorities.

Here is an al Jazeera English report from Sunday.

Global Voices has good coverrage in two important posts. The first by Amira al Husseini about the arrest of blogger/activist Malek and Mustafa Khalil from Kifeya a day prior to the general strike. and the second by Eman AbdELRahman, Including a clip, originally posted by Ghariba

Labels: , ,

posted by Ibn ad Dunya at 11:23 AM
3 posted on 04/08/2008 5:01:51 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: JerseyHighlander

No news for days and now this. Best check and rotate the Y2K stash.

4 posted on 04/08/2008 5:05:19 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: JerseyHighlander

Updates from Mahalla متابعات من المحلة

The Textile Workers’ League activists Kamal el-Fayoumi and Kareem el-Beheiri, as well as a number of the Mahalla detainees, are currently undergoing interrogation at the Tanta Prosecutor’s Office. I have a report from an activist, which I couldn’t confirm yet, that Kareem was subject to severe beatings in police custody. The activist I spoke with said he heard this from one of the recently released detainees. We should know soon whether Kareem and the others were abused in custody or not when the lawyers who are attending the interrogation come out…

Journalist Per Björklund witnessed the second day of the Mahalla Intifada…

The scenes outside the police station was incredible. I was almost like the ending of Youssef Chahine’s “Heyya Fawda“, except in real life the battle was won by the police… This was the point at which the mostly peaceful protest turned into a battle in the streets. Before the crowd reached the police station the police was standing back, even hiding behind their cars, as they knew they wouldn’t be able to control the crowds… the most important reason i could be there and take these photos was the residents of mahalla (not just demonstrators, but citizens who were just watching the events), who intervened several times when police or security agents approached me and tried to prevent me from taking pictures or confiscating my equipment as happened before..

Click below to watch a fantastic collection of photos of yesterday’s events in Mahalla, taken by Per…

Down with Mubarak

Omar Said was also present in Mahalla on Monday and sent me some pix… Click below…

Down with Mubarak!

For continuous updates on the detainees, please follow Tadamon, April 6th Strike, Abna2Masr and the HMLC blogs, especially as reports are coming out that those ordered by the prosecutor to be released in Alexandria and Mansoura, remain in police custody… Shehab Ismail also called me from NYC yesterday to say his sister Sarah who had been detained earlier in Cairo was still in police custody despite a release order…

Videos of the riots, caught on cellular phones, keep surfacing on the net… Check out some of them here, here, here, and here… Videos of the Cairo U protests could be found here… Also Keep an eye whenever you can on my bookmarks for more links and resources on the current fight against the Mubarak’s dictatorship…

The Egyptian Workers and Trade Unions Watch issued a report on Mahalla’s Monday riots, which you can download here…

Solidarity statements are flocking in from local and international activists… I’ll be posting them soon…

UPDATE (1:30pm): The HMLC blog is reporting that Ghazl el-Mahalla blogger Kareem el-Beheiri said he was taken blindfolded to an unknown place by the police, where he was beaten up and subjected to electric shocks. Shehab’s sister Sarah was finally released around two hours ago..

UPDATE (9pm): James has been twittering from Mahalla .. The most touching SMS was that of a Mahalla man quoted saying “give me my son from prison and i will stop revolt“… Click on the photo below to also go and check out his flickr account, to which he uploaded photos of the two day rioting…

Down with Mubarak

Earlier in the day, Mubarak’s PM Nazif accompanied by Labor Minister Aisha Abdel Hadi and the Minister of investments Mahmoud MohieEddin visited Ghazl el-Mahalla factory, in an attempt “to contain an explosive situation in a northern industrial city rocked by two days of deadly riots over high prices and low wages, some of the worst economic unrest here in 30 years. The worker bonuses and other concessions promised to workers by the prime minister show the government’s worry that economic angst could boil over..” I spoke with an activist in Mahalla.. He says Nazif promised all workers in the textile sector a 15-day bonus, and the workers in Mahalla specifically will get a one month bonus. The ministers also promised injecting LE400 millions into the Ghazl el-Mahalla company to modernize it, together with the transportation services for the workers, opening up outlets for Consumer Cooperatives in the company compound (where subsidized food would be sold), increase the number of doctors at the General Mahalla Hospital, increase the supply of flour aimed at the Mahalla bakeries. The workers who attended the ministerial meeting amounted to 2000 (out of a total labor force 27,000). But those “workers” who attended were from the management, as well as the govt-backed trade unionists, State Security agents in plainclothes, NDP members in Mahalla, and a selected number of workers in the factory whom the management “trusts are not gonna assault the ministers” in addition to the members of the CTUWS faction and their circle of sympathizers who sabotaged the planned 6th of April strikeNazif, Aisha and MohieEddin gave very inspiring promises and sincere speeches to the workers, which you can see for yourself below…

The town in general was calmer on Tuesday than it was the past couple of days, but police troops continued their deployment around the city and in public squares, and there were reports of clashes in the afternoon. Moreover, the funeral of the 15-year-old who was killed in his balcony yesterday by the police, was banned by the authorities fearing the event could trigger once more a full scale anti-govt riot…

The brave photographer and friend Nasser Nouri sent me a big dispatch of photos depicting the protests and clashes on the 6th and the 7th of April in Mahalla, some of which have already been posted… Click below to check out the set…


Nasser was hit with a rubber bullet in his right leg, which turned all blue. Despite that he kept limbing around in Mahalla over the past three days snapping photos. Nasser was today in Mahalla also, and reports a wide scale intimidation by the uniformed police and plainclothes thugs against journalists and photographers in the streets.

UPDATE: Wael Abbas confirms the PR nature of the ministerial delegation’s visit (which was not previously announced, and came more or less in secret) to Mahalla, and says the “workers” they met were “collaborators with the security.” Wael also says the regime has instructed newspapers and TV channels NOT to report on Mahalla

I received also a new set of photos from Mahalla on Tuesday, taken by James Buck… Click below to watch the set…

Down with Mubarak

“The demonstrations were not that big today. The city returned to a strange kind of quiet.” James told me, “The police were in control with troops lining every major street and armored vans with snipers on top patrolling the streets. Many shops were closed but there were people out and about, if kind of subdued. But still there were people protesting the prices of food, however the main focus now is ‘Where is my son?’ I met many people today who were scared for their children. They said they were taken by the police. They didn’t know anything about them. The police was denying also they had them. I’m talking about minors, teenagers and young men. They disappeared. The demonstrations today were mainly targeting the detention center [Mahalla’s First Police Station], where they believed their kids were held. Around nightfall a crowd gathered near the police station where apparently police had said they could bring food to those in jail, but many still didn’t know where their brothers, sons, fathers were. I was told by many that when they asked where is so and so, the police said ‘I don’t know.’ Mothers were wailing and crying in the streets. By night a large crowd was outside the prison barricade awaiting the release of prisoners. By 10pm only three had been released, all young boys aged around 10. When I interviewed people about the ministers’ decisions today they didn’t know about it and seemed not to care much about the benefits for factory workers. They still complain about the rising prices of food. I was told cooking oil used to be 5 pounds, now it is 11 pounds. a man yelled ‘I make 300 LE a month, and 10 pounds goes to oil!?’”


598 The Mahalla Intifada

Protester runs from tear gas, Mahalla, April 6, 2008. AP Photo: Nasser Nasser

A protester runs from a tear-gas canister in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla, April 6 (Photo: AP/Nasser Nasser)

The local council elections were today, but their results were a foregone conclusion even before the country’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, withdrew its candidates and called for a boycott. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won 70 percent of seats uncontested before polls opened. A few independents may win in some districts. Most of them will join (or re-join) the NDP after the election. So much expense and bad press could be saved by appointing the local councils.

In Cairo, after Sunday’s apocalyptic sandstorm, all-out security lock-down, and marginally successful general strike, the elections passed as a non-event.

A coalition of opposition groups is calling for a repeat of the April 6 “general strike” on President Hosni Mubarak’s 80th birthday, May 4. Secular activists have set up a Facebook group called “We don’t want the Brotherhood with us on May 4.” They will likely get their way. After the detention of 1,000 Brotherhood members and the group’s withdrawal from the elections, it’s unlikely that they’ll send members out to protest on President Mubarak’s birthday.

In the meantime, all eyes have been on Mahalla. Officials have confirmed that a 15-year-old boy, Ahmed Ali Mabrouk Hamada, was killed in yesterday’s protests over the high cost of living when police shot him with a rubber bullet at close range. On Sunday night, there were reports of two other fatalities, a 20-year-old man and a 9-year-old boy. The Daily News reported the deaths on Monday, but I’ve yet to see official confirmation. At least 90 protesters have been injured, hundreds more have been arrested, Mahalla City Hall has been ransacked, businesses and buses have been torched, and the images and the videos (more here, here, here, and here) coming out of the industrial town look like Gaza, circa Fall 2000.

Certainly nothing like this has happened in Egypt since police brutally crushed an August 1989 strike at a steel mill in Helwan, a southern industrial suburb of Cairo. But the comparison more frequently drawn, particularly given clashes in bread lines that have left seven dead in recent months, is with the 1977 bread riots. The comparison hasn’t been lost on the government, which has raised grain subsidies, ordered the Army to begin baking and distributing bread, canceled import duties on some foodstuffs, and indicated it will begin paying market prices for Egyptian grain in an effort to encourage domestic production.

Mahalla was quiet today. There were a few more arrests. Labor organizers were interrogated. But the big news was Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s trip to the city at the head of a delegation of Cabinet ministers. They came to appease the workers and to thank them for standing up to the ruffians and the troublemakers.

Arabist, on his way back from Mahalla, tells me by phone that all the workers he spoke to said the rioting had nothing to do with them, but rather was the work of poor youths frustrated by a lack of opportunity and a rising cost of living (look for his post tonight).

If true, this suggests the “Mahalla Intifada” has more in common with the 1977 bread riots than the 1989 strike in Helwan. This has troubling implications for the government. The Mubarak administration has effectively pacified strike after strike over the past year or so by acceding to the workers’ demands, but it can hardly right the country’s economic and agricultural imbalances overnight. More than a third of Egyptians live on $2 or less a day.

It’s hard to imagine what grander step the government could take to alleviate pressure on hungry citizens than calling in the Army to bake bread—especially given that a substantial retreat from the sort of free-market reforms that have driven the country’s growth in recent years would spook foreign investors and creditors. I expect it will try to find one in the weeks to come. But in the meantime, I expect it will look to its massive security apparatus to keep the lid on.

This is a temporary solution at best, and at worst a provocation. Streets filled with riot police (such as we saw in Cairo last Sunday), mass arrests (such as we’ve seen over the past month), rigged elections (such as we saw today), and jail sentences for high-profile critics (such as we’ve seen in the past weeks and years): all give the impression of a government pitted against its people. It’s an impression that isn’t lost on the people. But it’s an impression that must change if the country is to weather the gathering storm.


5 posted on 04/08/2008 5:11:36 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: jveritas


6 posted on 04/08/2008 5:15:08 PM PDT by txhurl
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To: JerseyHighlander
More Video of the protests from the early evening, very interesting video from YouTube.



No Entry or Exit to Al Mahallah


For the second consecutive day, Security forces attack the citizens and workers in Mahallah, there are reports stresses at least two killed in the terrorist attack on the police Mahallah workers since the morning yesterday, Sunday, to prevent the strike, as well as to the injured dozens.

In addition, Mahallah is completely isolated since the day before yesterday night because of the terrible security blockade set by security forces “terrorist” .

No entry or exit from the place, it seems that the system has decided Mahallah execution as punishment for selection of a legitimate claim for bread and freedom.

About 20 thousand of people Have succeeded to break away from the siege of the main police station of Al Mahallah (Canadians), were raised chanted demanding the release of their relatives, security forces began firing tear gas in order to disperse them disgruntled, and they also fired rubber bullets in the air to terrorize people.

Security unites already dispersed the demonstration and move crowds of protesters in two directions, in the “Al Banzion” area they succeeded in blockading the families. The groups which tended to “Al Shown square”, has succeeded in establishing a massive demonstration joined by thousands of people.

police shut down Lights and Electricity in the “Al Shown square” and Sea side Street “Sharea Al Bahr” and the main Department of Mahallah Police Station, which led to divide the people, Mahallah returned to a situation of calm that precedes the storm.

- - - -


7 posted on 04/08/2008 5:23:07 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: JerseyHighlander
Galvanised by their call for a general strike on Sunday, Egypt's cyber dissidents have set a new date for anti-regime action on May 4 as an 80th birthday present for President Hosni Mubarak.

Thanks for the link to that article, which explained the reference to May 4. That way, I don't have to read the 20,000 words in the posts above.

8 posted on 04/08/2008 5:24:46 PM PDT by Rocky
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A few interesting bits:
1. This protest was organized through a group. The creator of the group is now in a max security jail in egypt. As are many of the bloggers who posted on the buid up to the wage protest and factory walk out.
2. The Egyptian bloggers now hate Al-Jazeera as much as they hate US media, Al-Jazeera went from honest coverage at the very start, to voiceing the exact propaganda of the Mubarak regime. And Egyptians noticed.
3. There is now a LOT of first hand witness reports, photos and videos out there of Mubarak’s security forces destroying the local schools and their own security force vehicles to prepare the area for state media to stage the scene to make the protestors look like hooligan enemies of the state. For the first time the Egyptian people don’t seem to be buying anything being put out by the Egyptian state mass media.
4. These protests are directly related to inflation in the Egyptian economy. Wages in this mill town are stagnant, the cost of food and fuel is rising substantially. These protests can be seen in context with the riots in Haiti in a sense.
5. The Muslim Brotherhood boycotted participation in the protests. Now the trade unions and Socialists/Commies are basking in the glory.
6. The military police apparently shot a 9 year old boy who was sleeping in a 3rd floor apartment in the city. When news got out through word of mouth and SMS the entire city joined in the protests.
7. There are now thousands and thousands of troops on the streets, but they can’t stay forever. This city is now ground zero for the unionist movement in Egypt.
8. Even during the riots the factories were running and workers showed up for work. That is until the Egyptian Ministers arrived and decided to shut electric to the entire city as punishment to subdue the populace.

It’s going to be a wild summer in north Egypt, I can’t see how outside of nationalized subsidies for food how the people in Mahallah will be placated without violence.

9 posted on 04/08/2008 5:49:53 PM PDT by JerseyHighlander
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To: JerseyHighlander
"have proved our faith in the centrality of the working class to liberate Egypt from dictatorship and exploitation. "

To what end? Only to hand it over to muslim brotherhood fundamentalists, or Islamic-communists.

Egypt will never be free until it is free from Islam, and can start again as a democratic republic.

10 posted on 04/08/2008 6:12:07 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
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Arrests Begin in Advance of Strike in Egypt
By Courtney C. Radsch

11 posted on 04/08/2008 6:54:23 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( updated Saturday, March 29, 2008)
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; george76; ...

Somebody call the Copts.

12 posted on 04/08/2008 10:21:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( updated Saturday, March 29, 2008)
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