Friday, March 27, 2009

Strike call in Egypt evokes mixed reaction

Gulf News
By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent
Published: March 27, 2009

Cairo: A call for a nationwide strike to push for wider reforms has provoked mixed reactions in the country.

For the second year in a row, the Youth Movement, a protest group, has launched a call for a general strike on April 6 on popular social networking website Facebook.

Launching the call under the title 'It's our right and we'll take it', the organisers have urged participants to stay at home on April 6 and raise the national flag on balconies to show their solidarity to the movement.

The strike call was welcomed by Kefaya (Enough), a protest movement that is openly critical of 81-year-old President Hosni Mubarak's policies.

"Workers, farmers, students, university professors, professional unions and political groups should coordinate among themselves in order to rally the Egyptian population around key demands on the Day of Anger, i.e. April 6," Kefaya said in a statement this week.

The group, which is a loose umbrella of secularists, Islamists, liberals and leftists, wants higher wages, police removed from campuses, weeding out corruption, suspending a peace treaty with Israel and halting gas exports to it, and releasing all prisoners detained after violent protests in the industrial city of Al Mahala Al Koubra on April 6, 2008.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is Egypt's strongest opposition force, has yet to make its stance clear. "Being a political entity wielding huge influence... the Muslim Brotherhood's support is crucial to any action," Mohammad Habib, the deputy supreme guide of the Brotherhood, said.

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