Egypt

Women were braver than a hundred men

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Resistance to the neoliberal policies of the Egyptian government has led to a strike wave involving thousands of workers. Anne Alexander describes how women have played a key role in the struggle and Farah Koubaissy visits a tobacco factory where one woman, Hagga Aisha, has led the strikes.

"Egypt: open for business" runs a headline on the Egyptian government's investment website. World Bank officials appear to agree. Last October they named Egypt "Top Performer in Doing Business 2008". Economic growth is strong, averaging 7 percent per year over the past three years. At the urging of the International Monetary Fund, the government began a privatisation programme in 1991 which has led to the sell-off of hundreds of state-run firms, while cuts in corporation taxes have made life easier and more profitable for both foreign and domestic investors.

The dentist and the story that shook Egypt

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Dr Alaa Al Aswany's first published novel, The Yacoubian Building, provoked fury from the Egyptian regime, but has captured the imagination of the Egyptian public. Gehan Shabaan asks the bestselling author about his work and the film adaptation coming to Britain this month.

Any novel portraying Egyptian society as highly class divided and deeply corrupted by dictatorship was always likely to be controversial. But what special problems have you encountered, because The Yacoubian Building was both very popular and controversial?

Egypt: Rebellion against the Free Market

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For over half a century the small Egyptian village of Kamshish in the Nile Delta has been a battleground between Egypt's landlords and its impoverished peasant farmers.

The British-backed monarchy which ruled the country before the revolution of 1952 was propped up by a handful of rich landowners - some of them honoured with the title Pasha - who lived like feudal lords on their estates. Today children and grandchildren of the last generation of Pashas are returning as part of the neo-liberal onslaught on the world's farming poor. Shahinda Maqlid's husband, Salah Husain, was assassinated by the landlords in 1966. Today she is facing a jail sentence as the same landlord family which killed her husband tries to stop her campaign for peasants' rights.

Egypt: Enough is Enough

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'Kifaya' (enough) is the name chosen by the democracy movement in Egypt. It has already struck a chord with millions who have endured almost 25 years of suffocating repression under the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Kifaya means enough of the police state, of rigged elections, mass arrests and torture. But it has more radical implications: an end to privatisation, job cuts and land grabs; to the regime's embrace of neo-liberalism; and to its ties with the US and the IMF. As demonstrators in Cairo made clear last month, 'Enough of Mubarak, enough of Bush, enough of Blair.'

Cairo Conference: Middle Eastern Promise

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The Cairo conference brought to a close a momentous year for the global anti-war movement. Over 1,000 activists from Europe, North America and around the Middle East met on 13 and 14 December at the Egyptian Journalists' Union headquarters to debate strategies for building worldwide resistance to imperialism and globalisation.

Egyptian campaigners told how thousands of protesters took over central Cairo on the first day of war against Iraq. British trade unionists spoke about building the local Stop the War Coalition groups which mobilised millions on 15 February. US activists described launching a mass movement to bring the troops home.

Revolt on the Nile

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Anger against Mubarak's regime is growing.

An Egyptian socialist recalls his exchange with an officer of the mukhabarat (secret police) as riot squads attacked a huge anti-war protest in Cairo in March: '"We have to stop you," shouted the officer. "If we don't stop you now, you won't stop at all".'

Middle East: The Light on the Horizon

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The Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi spoke to Wael Fateen about women, globalisation and the Middle East.

How do see you the anti-capitalist movement at the moment?

In Porto Alegre the slogan was 'Another world is possible'. I believe this is true because the majority of the people are now against the system and they are now organised regardless of religion, gender or colour. The movement has a very politicised agenda. This is what I call unveiling the mind against the mainstream media. I was in the US on 11 September, and I could see the role the media played in brainwashing Americans by using the word 'terrorism'.

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