The Anti-Protest Protest
Do we call it an anti-strike strike? Or was it an anti-protest protest?
Protests continue as many sectors of Egyptian society continue to want to have their voices heard during this transitional period, even as the government seeks to restore stability and normalcy. Many of the protesters worry that stability and normalcy means a return to the old days. And some of the measures intended to end the protests–such as forcibly taking down Tahrir Square’s tent city and passing a law forbidding strikes and protests, engender more protests.
Thus Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Democratic Forces last week called for a march Sunday, March 27th to overturn the recently passed law criminalizing protests and strikes.
They carried out the march even though Minister of Justice Ahmed El-Guindy’s explained at a press conference that the anti-strike law doesn’t ban protests and strikes, “as long as [they do] not disrupt work.”
Some of the trade unionists said they wondered if the minister was a fool, or just thought they were.
The march apparently began at the Press Syndicate with only a hundred protesters but swelled with unionists, workers and activists, numbering about five hundred when they reached the building that houses Egypt’s cabinet. According to Al-Ahram On-Line, one of the speakers was Kamal Abou Eita, head of the Independent Syndicate for Real Estate Tax Employees, said:
He demanded the rescinding of the law which deprives people of their basic rights and a response to the demands of the people, namely the dismantling of the remnants of the Mubarak regime. It is “those remnants that prove to us everyday that the revolution has not been fulfilled and that the old regime is still governing. This is our number one demand and if is realised a third of our strikes and sit-ins would be brought to an end. If they really are the ministers of the revolution, they must stop trying to silence us and deny us of our rights.
Saud Omar, a trade unionist in the Suez Canal Authority, stated that “if Sharaf’s government today takes away our right to protest, sit-in and strike, I think that in the near future he will take from us our right to organise and all the other basic rights both civil and political.” A situation, he believes, would lead to a dictatorship worse than that of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. “It is a fascist law,” he stressed.