Review - Egypt: a radical story of resistance

The egyptians book

The Egyptians: a radical story

Jack Shenker, Allen Lane/Penguin

2016, 544pp, £15.99

This wonderful book is written by Jack Shenker who was Egypt correspondent for The Guardian newspaper in 2011 and reported regularly on the Arab Spring. Five years on, most readers will remember the 18-day occupation by hundreds of thousands of people of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. According to dominant media accounts at the time, it was this defiant occupation of public space that started off a turbulent chain of events which led to the overthrow of the government of President Mubarak, the election of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, his subsequent overthrow by popular pressure and the installation of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, as the new President of Egypt in 2013.


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Egypt – repression deepens

The military repression directed at the Muslim Brotherhood has intensified since the 3 July 2013 coup and is now being directed at working class struggles in Egypt. On 14 August state forces attacked two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps that were demanding the reinstatement of former President Morsi. At least 1,000 people were killed as the police opened fire with machine guns on crowds. The official death toll was over 600. On 21 September the military attacked the towns of Kersala and Dalga, both sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Estimates of the numbers killed since 3 July exceed 1,600 people, with 20,000 people detained. The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood is in gaol and Morsi himself will be tried for inciting deadly violence against protesters. The release of former President Mubarak from prison on 22 August symbolised the continuing power of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt.


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Egypt: Economic and social crisis deepens

The mass mobilisations of millions of people on the streets of Turkey, Brazil and Egypt in recent months result from the crisis gripping international capitalism. In Egypt, the people’s demands for ‘Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity’ cannot be met by the capitalist Egyptian state. The Egyptian ruling class tried to buy itself time by removing the government of President Morsi on 3 July. However, the problems underlying Egyptian society and the entrenched interests of its ruling class threaten to propel the masses back onto the streets and this time the conflict could prove decisive for the future of Egypt and the entire Middle East. Trevor Rayne reports.


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Egypt: threats and tensions

Egypt’s presidential election of 23/24 May has resulted in no overall winner and threatens the potential advances from the revolt that removed former President Mubarak in February 2011. A run-off between the Muslim Brotherhood, with its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) candidate Muhammud Mursi, and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, General Ahmad Shafiq, is scheduled for 16/17 June. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak’s overthrow, has said it will hand over power to the newly elected President by the end of June. If Shafiq is the President it will effectively retain power – he is their candidate.


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Egypt – battles to come

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians converged on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 25 January 2012 to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled President Mubarak on 11 February 2011, and to demand an immediate end to military rule. Similar demonstrations took place in Suez and Alexandria. Regardless of parliamentary elections, the generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) are still in power.


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Egypt: the anger explodes


The Egyptian masses’ demand for democracy has confronted the Egyptian military command. That command is the main agent of imperialism in Egypt. Having presented itself as on the side of the revolution by getting former President Mubarak to resign on 11 February 2011 and restraining the use of troops, the army is now exposed as a murderous instrument of oppression. After seven days of protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian towns and cities, 41 people have been killed by riot police and soldiers and 2,000 have been injured. 80% of Egypt’s 500,000 soldiers are conscripts. Imperialism – and the generals _ will calculate how reliable they are as the masses mobilise with tremendous determination and courage for an end to military rule. Trevor Rayne reports.


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Egypt: revolt maintains momentum against military

Thousand of protestors have regrouped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and on 15 July held a ‘Friday of final warning’ demonstration against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The SCAF (senior generals) has run Egypt since President Mubarak’s overthrow on 11 February. Demonstrations were mounted in towns across Egypt. Among the protestors demands are an end to military trials of civilians, the immediate trial of Mubarak and other officials, including police officers accused of torturing and attacking demonstrators, and the resignation of the Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. Strikes are banned by the SCAF but have been held by workers in many industries: railways, automobiles, petroleum, airlines and health. Tenant farmers protested against state seizures of their land. Workers threatened to shut the Suez Canal. The SCAF responded by deploying the army.


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Egypt has become a popular destination for western politicians. On 21 February British Prime Minister Cameron became the first western leader to visit Egypt since Mubarak was driven from power on 11 February. Cameron arrived with a coterie of arms dealers, en route for the Middle East, finding time to praise democracy. Before leaving for Cairo, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, ‘We have an enormous stake in ensuring that Egypt and Tunisia provide models for the kind of democracy we want to see.’ Clinton explained, ‘the more foreign direct investment that we can help to encourage and support, we think will be beneficial for Egyptian people.’ The youthful protesters refused to meet Clinton because of her previous support for Mubarak.


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Uprising in Egypt shakes the world


The courage and anger of the Egyptian people on the streets of cities across the country is shaking the entire edifice of imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. They shout for ‘bread and freedom’ and declare ‘a day of revolt against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment’ and tilt the balance against Zionism and the US. President Mubarak is clinging on to power but the masses are refusing to end their uprising.


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