Egypt's Mahalla brought to standstill by protests, strikes

Ahram Online, Monday 18 Mar 2013

Around 1,300 factories closed in the industrial city in the central Delta due to massive protests and strikes against the Muslim Brotherhood on Monday

A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister back at security forces during clashes in Mahalla in January 2013 (Photo:AP)

Intensive strikes and protests against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi completely halted traffic in the industrial city of Mahalla in the Nile Delta on Monday.

Aswat Masriya, a news portal affiliated to Thompson Reuters Foundation, reported that thousands of students embarked on marches, calling for the ouster of the incumbent regime and the rule of the "Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood."

The Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which Morsi hails, is believed by many of the opposition to be the actual ruling body. Opponents argue that the group's Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, is the country's de facto ruler.

Protests against both men and the powerful Islamist group caused the closure of around 1,300 factories. Students also failed to reach their schools and universities, while shops also were shut down due to the protests and the ensuing traffic problems.

Aswat Masriya also reported that the entrances and exits of the city were blocked off, and public transportation was halted as a result. Angry protesters prevented buses from moving.

According to Egyptian television, bus drivers and taxi drivers went on strike in protest at recurrent shortages of diesel fuel. They called for stepped up security at petrol stations, after a group of thugs reportedly stole fuel supplies.

Rickshaws, or tok toks, were the main means of transportation amid the massive protests, with fares soaring from LE1 to LE5 or even LE10.

Since the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution, a number of cities such as Port Said, Mansoura, Tanta and Mahalla have witnessed extended protests and calls for civil disobedience.

Last month, hundreds in Mahalla went on strike and blockaded the main routes into the city as part of a campaign of civil disobedience.

Strikes by Mahalla workers in 2006 and in 2008 against ousted president Mubarak’s regime gained widespread popularity and are believed by many analysts in Egypt to have partly set the stage for the 2011 revolution.

Short link: