The bloody Egyptian dictatorship of General Abdel Fattah al Sisi is banning the sale of yellow vests, as protests spread internationally in sympathy with the movement against French President Emmanuel Macron. This came as “yellow vest” protesters in France rejected Macron’s offer of concessions in an attempt to placate the growing movement.
The Sisi dictatorship is terrified that growing working class anger in Egypt and across North Africa could erupt around “yellow vest” protests like those in France. Cairo retailers contacted by AP said police ordered them not to sell the vests until after the protests on January 25 of next year—the eighth anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled the hated dictator Hosni Mubarak. Since it took power in 2013 in a bloody military coup, the Sisi regime has banned such protests and sent riot police to beat or kill anyone who defied the ban.
“The police came here a few days back and told us to stop selling them. We asked why, they said they were acting on instructions,” one retailer told AP. Another said, “They seem not to want anyone to do what they are doing in France.”
Industrial safety equipment distributors are reportedly under orders not to sell yellow vests to walk-in customers, but only to verified construction companies who have police permission. Many press outlets reported that the Egyptian Interior Ministry did not answer requests for comments on the yellow vest ban.
Sisi is reportedly a close friend of former French President François Hollande, and French Internet spying firms are deeply implicated in surveillance of the Egyptian population and the identification of individuals via Internet and social media to be arrested and tortured. Despite their best efforts, however, bread riots, textile workers strikes and protests against Sisi’s privatizations and food subsidy cuts have repeatedly shaken Egypt in the last two years.
Sisi’s attempted preemptive strike against “yellow vest” protests in Egypt points to the panic of governments worldwide at the radicalization of the international working class. Demands for social equality, wage increases, an end to militarism and repression and the ouster of unpopular governments, that drive the yellow vest protests in France, are shared by workers and toiling people in every country. As Sisi desperately tries to keep such protests from spreading to Egypt, various forces are calling such protests from one country to the next.
In Europe, Belgian police violently cracked down on Friday’s “yellow vest” protest in Brussels, as protesters also donned yellow vests in the Netherlands and Bulgaria, and also Iraq. After a “yellow vest” protest in Basra against contaminated water and poor city services under the NATO-backed neo-colonial regime, protesters in Baghdad also wore yellow vests to marches on December 7 to show their solidarity with the Basra protests.
Particularly after the brutal police crackdowns in Brussels and on Saturday in Paris, protests are spreading across Africa. In Burkina Faso, a Facebook group has been set up calling for such protests on December 13. It states: “So on December 13, 2018, across Burkina Faso, let us occupy without violence and pacifically every street corner and intersection in our neighborhoods in the cities and villages across the entire country to say: –No to the rise in fuel prices // –No to injustice in all its forms.”
In Tunisia, a recently-founded Facebook group of “Red Vests” issued its first statement on December 7. It denounced the “failure and corruption” of the Tunisian political system and the government’s “policy of systematic impoverishment” of the population. This came after a strikes last week by Tunisian teachers against wage cuts.
As in Egypt, anger in Tunisia is expected to erupt on January 14, on the eighth anniversary of the 2011 revolution that ousted European-backed dictator Zine El Abedine Ben Ali. The General Union of Tunisian Labor (UGTT) trade union, which was a close supporter of the Ben Ali dictatorship, felt compelled to call two symbolic, one-day strikes in the public sector last month. Calls are circulating for a general strike in Tunisia next month.
In Algeria, protesters donned yellow vests and joined in a march in Béjaïa yesterday, prompting worry in bourgeois media. Noting the “gloomy social climate due to the drastic fall in Algerians’ purchasing power,” Mondafrique wrote that protests “have caused an all-out political crisis in France. Is Algeria safe from a possible, indeed probable infection?”
Excerpt of an article from wsw.org