The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

April 6 Strike - what to expect

A quick round-up of info about Egypt's April 6 strike:

- You can follow updates on Twitter by using the #6April tag

- A couple of days ago the Karama party (leftist-Nasserist, unrecognized) held a conference in which it announced the latest opposition coalition initiative, the "Coalition of Egyptians for Change". It includes some of the usual figures from the Muslim Brothers (M. Abul Quddous) and a bunch of intellectuals like Sonallah Ibrahim and Alaa al-Aswaani. Here's a MET story on it that might exaggerate its import - remember it's not the first time such a coalition is formed, it should not have to be re-formed.

- The socialist Tagammu party is joining the strike, and Ayman Nour (I'm not sure you can say there remains much of a Ghad party, even if he is rebuilding) has backed it, as has the fledging Democratic Front. The liberal Wafd is against the strike, although some of the writers in its paper back it. Presumably the Nasserists back it.

- There have been a number of arrests of students and activists ahead of today's strike, most notably in Kafr al-Sheikh and Cairo. A Muslim Brother blogger, Abdel Rahman Fares has been arrested in Fayoum. Massive security presence expected in Cairo and elsewhere. Watch this al-Jazeera English report for background:

- Protests are being planned at various universities around the country, notably Cairo U. Elsewhere likely to be used in Cairo: the State Council, the Journalists' Syndicate, the General Federation of Trade Unions, and more.

- The Doctor's Syndicate will strike on April 9 asking for minimum wage, but there's some overlap with today. A protest is planned today in front of the Doctors' Syndicate on Qasr al-Aini St. The Pharmacists' Syndicate, the Bar Association and the Engineers' movement have announced they will not participate. Presumably the Judges' Club is not participating in light of its new pro-regime leadership, although its Alexandria branch still could.

- Hossam Tammam on the Brothers' participation or non-participation (at this point it remains unclear what they'll do, even if they've announced support for the strike):

In a replay of events last year the MB has declined to take part in the 6 April strike, although it says that it supports strikes as a form of political action guaranteed by the law and the constitution. Justifying its refusal to participate the MB said that as the country's largest opposition group it should have been consulted. This is more or less what the MB said last year. The excuse is starting to wear thin.

The MB is not known for its ability to maintain alliances outside the circle of Islamic activists or to perform as part of a broad political front. This is a result of the indoctrination that goes on in a closed organisation run through a strict hierarchy and which demands blind obedience to its leaders.

Another reason that prevents the MB from cooperating with other groups is the self-importance it has acquired since it started outperforming other opposition groups in elections. The MB has developed a habit of lecturing others about the great sacrifices it has made over the years.

Even if this were true, harping can only alienate other parties, if not the public as a whole. The fact is the MB's long history of suffering sometimes makes it act in an isolationist manner, as if it were a closely-knit clan, not a group seeking allies on the local political scene.

- Sandmonkey rants against the whole 6 April phenomenon.

- So does Hossam for very different reasons, namely that it's not a general strike if large labor unions are not participating. But it will be "a day of protests, a day of rage." He has some notes on MB youth and rifts on MB policy on this one.

- Zenobia has a bunch of updates.

- Site of 6 April youth. They have two Facebook groups you can join too, one in English and one in Arabic.

I haven't been out yet today but it appears to be a normal day traffic-wise in Garden City...