Killed over tea

Protests in Egypt ensue after a police officer shot and killed a tea vendor in Cairo on Tuesday. The police officer, who has not been named, is being held by Egyptian authorities. For some, this act of police violence confirms that the current regime considers Egyptian lives disposable. The death of the tea vendor has not happened in isolation but is part of a broader program of state sanctioned repression.

When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself aflame in Tunisia in 2010, he did so because the Tunisian working class was disenfranchised but also because of the daily torment of the state. Police brutality against the working class is not unique to Tunisia or Egypt but can be found in working class black neighborhoods in the United States. It is in this vein that we can say that Egyptian lives matter and transformation from the status quo can only happen from below.

Under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, security forces have increased to the point that non-permitted street protests have been criminalized. Despite that, the past several months have witnessed a series of labor and social related street oppositions. In February, Egyptian doctors organized a strike to demand better working conditions and to challenge police brutality. The regime responded by arresting some of the key leaders including Dr. Taher Mokhtar. Outside of this struggle for better healthcare in Egypt, 38,000 public bus drivers exerted their labor power in March 2016. The Ultras White Knights–most popularly known for helping to oust Hosni Mubarak–were allowed to gather their base for a match earlier this month. This was particularly important partially because the left leaning team has been pivotal for integrating sports and mass political protest.

Although the Sisi regime has used intimidation and violence to suppress opposition, labor groups and civil society groups have managed to resist. What this goes to show is that collective mobilization by the Egyptian people will help to generate political change.

 

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