Will New Spring follow Islamist Winter?
REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALISTS on march in Damietta, northern Egypt
SOCIALISTS and trade unionists who have taken to the streets against right-wing governments n Egypt and Tunisia are asking for international support.
In Egypt, President Mohammad Morsy tried to use his enhanced status after brokering the Gaza ceasefire as the cover for a deal with the International Monetary Fund and to give himself dictatorial powers such as people thought they had seen off with Hosni Mubarak.
As the tents of protest went up again in Tahrir Square, teachers and textile workers trade unions called strikes against the government. Demonstrators have clashed not only with riot police but with the president's supporters in the Ikhwan, the Muslim Brotherhood. Demonstrators who stormed a Brotherhood office say they found an arms cache there.
Some of the Muslim Brotherhood members who turned out against protesters are not just ordinary supporters but armed squads, also including Salafi thugs such as have carried out sectarian attacks and provocations in several countries in the name of their extreme version of Islam.
In the chaos and excitement of the clashes the Revolutionary Socialists reported:
“We are mourning the death of Taha Magdy, who was killed by Brotherhood thugs. We are ready to offer hundreds of martyrs for the sake of our revolution,” they declared on Facebook. A woman member was kidnapped. "Comrade Ola Shaoba was attacked by MB last night and now still in hospital. She was not just beaten but captured also and let go, many are still held by MB as if we are prisoners of war!!" - via Gigi Ibrahim.
Later it was reported that Taha, though wounded, was still alive.
"Apology and correction: The Revolutionary Socialist movement apologizes for spreading the news of the martyrdom of comrade Taha Magdy based on the report of the officiating doctor at one of the government hospitals. The safety of our comrade has been confirmed..."
Another four people were reportedly killed in the clashes, including a member of the Socialist Progress Party. And from Reporters Without Frontiers comes this report:
Al-Hosseiny Abu Deif, an experienced newspaper reporter, was rushed to hospital after being hit in the head by a rubber bullet fired at close range at around 1 a.m. today and is said to be in a critical condition.
“Witnesses say the president’s supporters deliberately targeted and attacked journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on President Morsi to order an investigation into the circumstances of these attacks and to punish those responsible. As president, he must ensure the safety of all of his fellow citizens, including journalists.
“We also call on the president to rescind the 22 November decree granting himself extraordinary powers, and not hold a referendum on the draft constitution in its current form. The Constituent Commission must amend the draft in order to provide more protection for freedom of expression and information.”
A witness told Reporters Without Borders that Morsi supporters deliberately targeted Deif, who works for the newspaper Al-Fagr. Five minutes before he was shot from a distance of just two metres, he showed colleagues photos of the president’s supporters with sophisticated weapons. His camera was stolen after he was shot, as colleagues went to his aid.
From Tunisia, where workers are resisting austerity measures and unemployment such as led to the overthrow of the old regime, comes this message:
"Today 06/12/2012 a general strike in Kasserine, Gafsa, Sidi Bouzid and Sfax. We organized a big march protesting against Ennahdha government's militia which attacked unionsts in Tunis last tuesday in head office of Union General de Travailleurs Tunisien. Yesterday the officers of UGTT met and announced a general strike for next Thursday 13/12/12. The decision won't be reviewed unless the gvt admits these militias are illegal and takes the decision to stop them acting in the name of the revolution."
Mohamed Sghaier Saihi UGTT Kasserine
AMONG those joining the struggle in Egypt have been thousands of workers from the giant textile plant of Misr Spinning in Mahalla al-Kubra.
Workers rallied as they ended their shift and were joined by townspeople in a march which quickly swelled to more than 5,000 strong.
As the protestors reached Shoun Square in the town centre they were attacked by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, who threw fireworks at them. The demonstrators answered with stones and molotov cocktails.
One of the Egyptian trade unionists active in the struggle has sent this message to friends in London:
On 17 November I was invited to speak at the Unite the Resistance Conference in London, and I asked you for your solidarity with the workers’ movement in Egypt. Today we need your solidarity more than ever.
Activists have been fighting to overthrow the Constituent Assembly which represents no-one except the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi then brought out his Constitutional Declaration which makes him like a god or a new pharaoh, who controls all the institutions of the state, and means he cannot be challenged. One of his aims was to protect the Shura Council [the upper house of parliament] from dissolution, as well as the Constituent Assembly, so that he could get the new constitution passed. But he didn’t count on the anger of the Egyptian people, who have come out in their hundreds of thousands to protest in the streets against his Constitutional Declaration, and to show their refusal to participate in the creation of a new dictatorship.
As you are protesting against austerity, unemployment and poverty in Britain, we will be on the streets in Egypt, trying to achieve the goals of our revolution.
We are all united for bread, freedom and social justice.
The Factory - Revolution Through Arab Eyes - Al Jazeera English
Al Ahram editorial on decline and fall of Muslim Brotherhood: