The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Engineering dissent

I can’t claim I know much about what’s happening in the Engineers’ Syndicate, but it seems like the Egyptian engineers are trying to get their act together, and liberate their syndicate from government control. The syndicate, together with other professional syndicates—especially the Doctors’, Pharmacists’—had largely fallen under the Muslim Brothers’ control in the beginning of the 1990s. The government targeted the syndicates with new legislations, that brought them under its control, during the general crackdown on Islamism starting from 1992. Activities at the syndicate came to a complete halt for a decade.

But, it seems the overall political stir in the country is finally making its way to our engineers. Last year my inbox received several statements signed by Mohandessoun Ded el-Herassa, which translates awkwardly into "Engineers Against Custodianship," in reference to the government-imposed group of custodians who run the syndicate. And if I’m not mistaken, there was a demonstration organized at some point in front of the syndicate this year, but my memory betrays me so as to when exactly.

It’s worth noting several prominent leaders in the anti-Mubarak movement come from the ranks of the engineers, like Kamal Khalil. But leftist engineers, seemingly, have tended to be active politically in circles other than their own syndicate. I don’t necessarily know why, but may be because of the strong dominance of the Islamists that had left a tiny room for secular activism? (If any of you dear Arabist readers are following the engineers’ beat, you are more than welcome to share info with us.)

Since last February, my inbox has been receiving statements signed by the “Democratic Engineers.� Now a petition is being circulated calling for the end of government control on the syndicate. I thought of sharing their (Arabic) website with you. The site includes their manifesto, statements, updates on activism issues, and the petition.