Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

EGYPT: A tense spring heating up

March 3, 2008 |  8:09 am

Egypt is bracing for a hot and noisy spring of labor unrest. Strikes are expected from factory workers, doctors and university professors, all of whom are demanding that minimum wages be raised to cope with inflation. Doctors are planning a strike on March 15 to be followed by university professors on March 23 and by textile workers on April 6. 

The cross-class disenchantment comes as a reaction to persistent inflation in a country where half the population lives in poverty. According to press reports, prices of some food products have recently jumped by 122%. Last month, thousands of textile workers protested price hikes on loaves of bread in a Delta province. Egypt may witness bread riots similar to the ones that erupted in 1977. Public outrage over tough living conditions poses the most imminent threat to President Hosni Mubarak’s 26-year-old regime.

“It has come to the point where the government is clashing with doctors and university professors — this regime no longer has any legitimacy,” a leftist political activist was quoted in the press last week.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo