Politics & Policy

Laboring Against Propaganda

The Times this morning has a very useful summary of the latest developments among the Egyptian protesters. Two new developments include fresh labor strikes, and a organized push-back against state propaganda. 

On the labor front: 

 

Increasingly, the political clamor for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster seemed to be complemented by strikes in Cairo and elsewhere.

In the most potentially significant action, about 6,000 workers at five service companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority — a major component of the Egyptian economy — began a sit-in on Tuesday night. There was no immediate suggestion of disruptions to shipping in the canal, a vital international waterway leading from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. But Egyptian officials said that total traffic declined by 1.6 percent in January, though it was up significantly from last year.

More than 2,000 textile workers and others in Suez demonstrated as well, Al Ahram reported, while in Luxor thousands hurt by the collapse of the tourist industry marched to demand government benefits. There was no immediate independent corroboration of the reports.

At one factory in the textile town of Mahalla, more than striking 1,500 workers blocked roads, continuing a long-running dispute with the owner. And more than 2,000 workers from the Sigma pharmaceutical company in the city of Quesna went on strike while some 5,000 unemployed youth stormed a government building in Aswan, demanding the dismissal of the governor.

And, a journalists’ revolt: 

 

While state television has focused its coverage on episodes of violence that could spread fear among the wider Egyptian public and prompt calls for the restoration, Al Ahram’s coverage was a departure from its usual practice of avoiding reporting that might embarrass the government.

In the lobby of the newspaper, journalists on Wednesday were in open revolt against the newspaper’s management and editorial policies.

Some called their protest a microcosm of the Egyptian uprising, with young journalists leading demands for better working conditions and less biased coverage. “We want a voice,” said Sara Ramadan, 23, a sports reporter.

The turmoil at the newspaper has already changed editorial content, with the English-language online edition openly criticizing what it called “the warped and falsified coverage by state media” of the protests in Tahrir Square and elsewhere.

Another article described how “more than 500 media figures” issued a statement declaring “their rejection of official media coverage of the January 25 uprising and demanded that Minister of Information Anas El-Fikki step down.”

Members of the Journalists Syndicate moved toward a no-confidence vote against their leader, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, a former Mubarak speech writer, the daily Al Masry Al Youm reported on its English-language Web site.

Several of the dozens of protesters occupying the lobby on Wednesday said the editor of the English-language division heads to the square to join the protests every night, joined by many of the staff.

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