Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Egypt: Students mark 1946 uprising with protest marches against SCAF

Ahram Online
Egypt students mark '46 workers and students anti-British uprising with anti-SCAF marches, protests

Tuesday 21 Feb 2012

Sherif Tarek

University students from across the country on Tuesday are commemorating the 66th anniversary of Egypt's 1946 student and workers uprising by staging a number of protest marches and other activities.

Students from over 15 Egyptian universities and 14 student movements, along with a number of high school students, are using the occasion to demand justice for protesters and activists slain in the wake of last year's revolution and the swift handover of power from the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to a civil authority. Doaa Basiouny, a student at Ain Shams University, added that core student demands were also being raised, including calls for free education and better academic facilities.

Among the student movements taking part in the scheduled event are the Students for Justice and Freedom, Revolutionary Socialist Students and the April 6 Students.

Students in several governorates – including Alexandria, Mansoura and Minya – have also invited members of the "Liars" campaign, which is devoted to exposing the SCAF's "lies" since its assumption of power one year ago, to attend the event.

In the capital, around 1000 Cairo University students set out from the university's main gate from which they would march to Egypt's parliament building, passing across Cairo's iconic Abbas Bridge.

The 9 February student-led general strike of 1946 led to one of Egypt's most infamous tragedies, when students organised a protest march to voice opposition to the government's non-confrontational position on the ongoing British occupation of the country.

As marchers passed onto the Abbas flyover, one of several bridges that connect Giza to Cairo, police opened the bridge on the orders of then prime minister Mahmoud Fahmy El-Nokrashi. As a result, dozens of protesters drowned after falling into the Nile, while many survivors were rounded up and arrested.

The incident triggered a student-led general strike that began on 21 February 1946, which was followed shortly afterward by clashes between Egyptian students and British occupation troops. In Cairo's Tahrir Square, destined to become the epicentre of revolution 66 years later, British troops shot down several students participating in demonstrations.

Students retaliated by torching a British military camp as the wave of protests quickly spread across the country. After the dust had settled, an estimated 48 students lay dead.

University students in neighbouring Arab countries, meanwhile, including Sudan and Syria, also staged strikes to express solidarity with their Egyptian counterparts.

El-Nokrashi was assassinated in December of 1948 by the Muslim Brotherhood's Abdel Megid Hassan, who managed to gain access to the prime minister by impersonating a police officer.

Last year, students did not commemorate the anniversary of the strike, as it came in the immediate wake of Egypt's January 25 Revolution and the subsequent 11 February ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak.

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