The official civil disobedience page on Facebook announced that 40 political parties and 51 political movements, along with 44 universities and schools, and over 200 labourers’ unions joined the open-ended strike
To mark the first anniversary of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, universities and schools announced their civil disobedience nationwide, and instead of heading home, the students took to the streets to demand the ousting of former regime represented in the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF).
The official civil disobedience page on Facebook announced that 40 political parties and 51 political movements, along with 44 universities and schools, and over 200 labourers’ unions joined the open-ended strike, in hopes of using this peaceful form of protest in forcing SCAF out of Egypt’s political scene.
The Muslim Brotherhood and Al Nour party ran their own counter-civil disobedience campaign during which they called on labour unions and students to go about their lives as normally as possible, claiming that the call for the civil disobedience is a call for destroying the country.
In response, some protesters recalled that back in 2008, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement defending the Egyptian citizen’s right to peacefully go on strike.
The first day being a weekend, did not meet the kind of strike the youth were hoping for, as most shops were open, which prompted them to realise their need to broaden their focus to include all private businesses.
Dr Saif Abd Al Fatah, professor of political sciences at University of Cairo, stated that the protesters are yet to master the culture of protest.
He said: «The protesters resorted to the general strike because they feel that their demands were never met. We cannot claim that we reached the civil disobedience phase yet. To get to the point where the entire country goes on strike or what we’d call a civil disobedience, the protesters have to exhaust every peaceful form of protest to get their point across, be it marches, or sit-ins.»
«The protesters should know that they are to raise the ceiling of demands only if their demands have been partially met. Another thing they should be aware of is that going on a hunger strike – such the one university students are threatening – is an effective tool of protest, but they should not use it right away. In fact, that particular method should be a last resort.»
Dr Abd Al Fatah explains that the protesters resorted to the strike and the impending civil disobedience because the current governing body refuses to hear the people out, or even meet their reasonable demands, such as passing the minimum and maximum wages bill.
Dr Abd Al Fatah said: «SCAF, like a failing student, received countless opportunities to turn around and start over again, but they failed time and time again, just how many pass is the council meant to receive exactly?»
In response to the frustration some of the poorer citizens feel due to the strike, Dr Abd Al Fatah said: «The Egyptian citizen was taught to feel such fear, it’s our job to help them understand that we’re not working for today or our immediate future, we’re building a new country for the generations to come.»
Mamdouh Al Shafi, a contractor, said he sees why the protesters are frustrated: «We hold no grudges towards the army, however we do have a major problem with the 19-members council that is SCAF. The protesters going on a strike and eventually civil disobedience didn’t have much of a choice, SCAF’s leadership lead the country into this battle. If they’d met our demands sooner we wouldn’t be here today.»
Ahmed Ali Hassan, a Tahrir Square resident, is with the strike and the civil disobedience: «SCAF will never let go of the power, how can they? They know if a government comes a long sooner or later they will have to go on trial, how can they allow such a thing to happen? SCAF is a carbon copy of the previous regime. The so called democratic experience we witnessed was planned by SCAF.» The way Ahmed sees it, SCAF being an extension of Mubarak’s regime, the protesters should be weary of them and never allow themselves to believe that they’d allow the protesters to «de-throne them» from Egypt’s presidency.
Abdullah Tarek, a sales manager and a protester, however, does not see how the strike or the civil disobedience will help improve the country’s financial standing: «We voted for a parliament I believe can ensure our rights, and SCAF pushed for early elections half way through the year. I’m not with SCAF, no one is. But 30 million people voted for the parliament, we should trust it’s judgment, the sooner we do the faster things will settle down.»
What none of the protesters seem to realise is that whether SCAF wanted this parliament or not, or if they’ll leave the authority or not half way through the year, the very mentality of the Egyptian citizen changed. Each and every citizen, has an opinion, and that in a way is a positive indicator of a better future to come, regardless of how long that will take.