Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egyptian Workers Continue Strike As Protesters Hold Parliament For Second Day

Thousands of workers across Egypt have gone on strike in support of efforts to send Hosni Mubarak packing, including many within the Egyptian middle class. Still, some of those striking are calling for improved economic and social conditions - not necessarily calling for Mubarak's removal:
Al Jazeera correspondents in Cairo reported that thousands of doctors, medical students and lawyers, the doctors dressed in white coats and the lawyers in black robes, marched in central Cairo and were hailed by pro-democracy protesters as they entered Tahrir [Liberation] Square.

The artists syndicate and public transport workers, including bus drivers, also joined the strikes, our correspondents reported.

"It's certainly increasing the pressure on the government here," Al Jazeera's Steffanie Dekker, reporting from Cairo, said.

"I think it's worth making the distinction that the strikes going on are more of an economic nature, they are not necessarily jumping on the bandwagon of the protesters in Tahrir Square.

"Many of them are not actually calling for the president to step down, but fighting for better wages, for better working conditions."

Pro-democracy supporters across the country have meanwhile called for a ten-million strong demonstration to take place after this week's Friday prayers.
There are continued reports that the Egyptian security forces are torturing those it has captured. Some reports indicate that the security forces include the military, which has taken hundreds into custody since the protests began more than two weeks ago. The fear of a crackdown remains looming over the protesters, but the protesters are remaining defiant.

Meanwhile, Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who was jailed for 12 days by the Egyptian authorities, "posted a message on his Twitter page today saying that "I promise every Egyptian that I will go back to my normal life & not be involved in any politics once Egyptians fulfill their dreams.""

The headlines are hyping that Mubarak may stand down. The BBC headlines that "Egypt protests: Hosni Mubarak 'may be stepping down'". But the report itself offers up only wishful thinking.
A senior member of Egypt's governing party has told the BBC he "hopes" that President Hosni Mubarak will transfer power to Vice-President Omar Suleiman.

Hossan Badrawi, secretary general of the National Democratic Party (NDP), said Mr Mubarak would "most probably" speak to the nation soon.

It comes on the 17th day of protests against Mr Mubarak's 30-year rule.

The Egyptian military has said it is ready to respond to the "legitimate demands of the people".

In a statement on Egyptian state TV, it said the safety and security of the people was paramount.

The last time Mubarak got before the camera, there were reports he was going to announce his resignation. That didn't happen then either.

"Hopes" that he transfers power is a whole lot different than actually jetting off to a life in exile in Jedda or London or wherever former autocrat/kleptocrats go to spend their days (and ill-gotten gains).

This is far from the first time there were rumors or claims that he was going to depart from Egypt's power scene.

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