Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So much for Egypt's 'day of rage'

Facebook-organised protests against a corrupt elite mean little in a country where only 10% of the population are internet users

Jack Shenker, Tuesday 7 April 2009

"It was billed as a "day of rage", 24 hours of co-ordinated protests across the country in which Egypt's 80 million citizens would send a powerful message of defiance to their unloved government. In reality, at best it proved to be a day of mild dissatisfaction; at worst the events of 6 April 2009 may have dealt a serious blow to the country's fragmented opposition movement......

The irony of all this is that Egypt's workers are in fact engaged in a wave of political militancy, which in recent months has seen strikes break out across every corner of the country, bringing everyone from doctors to train drivers on to the streets. On top of this, some public sector employees are for the first time escaping the trappings of the state-controlled union syndicates and instead forming their own private trade unions. A recent report suggested that Egypt will be particularly hit by the economic downturn, with half a million more jobs likely to be lost in 2009. Alongside the already fierce bubbling of social discontent, this will weaken the beleaguered Mubarak regime even further. But as yesterday made clear, it will take more than a few social networking groups to effectively capitalise on the government's problems – something which those 75,000 Facebook group members will be soberly pondering today."

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