Protests hit Cairo again


Soldiers, many dressed in riot gear, were deployed in force in this famous street, where hundreds of protesters shouted anti-Government slogans barring traffic from passing through.
They said that they staged the protest to force the Government to raise the monthly minimum wage, which has been unchanged since 1996.
Although the Cabinet last week agreed to set minimum wage to LE700 a month and approved a 15 per cent increase in salaries and wages, the protesters said they were not enough.
The protesters demanded that the minimum wage be increased to LE1,200 as approved by the Administrative Justice Court late last year.
But the Government has balked at such a rise, and Finance Minister Samir Radwan warned it could lead to rampant inflation.
The road to the Cabinet headquarters was blocked impeding motorists from passing through the street as the protesters chanted political slogans and traded insults.
A female protester, a garment factory worker from the Delta Governorate of Dakahlia, was hit and killed by a speeding car while she was standing with her colleagues in Mansoura City on Tuesday, police said.
The protesters in Cairo  painted a different picture of why they were taking to the street again.
“The prices are too high and wages are too low. We can’t make a living and need to take a stand,” said Ali, who had a Ph D. degree and works for the Ministry of Oil. “They (the Ministry’s top officials) get more money than I do. And I get peanuts,” Ali said, adding that he has not been promoted since he obtained his doctorate degree three years ago.
Other angry workers from Mansoura-Spain Garment Factory sat on the nearby sidewalk in front of  the Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s office shouting anti-Government slogans.
In other parts of Cairo, thousands of residents struggled to make their way to work earlier in the day or home in the afternoon.
Security forces in riot gear were placed in front of the TV Building, where a protest by shantytown residents was taking place.
Hassan Farid, 46, a doorman at a local money exchange, said he decided to join the protest although his boss threatened to slash his daily wage in half if he didn’t show up at work.
“What I make is not enough for me to rent a decent flat, which the Government has promised me in el-Nahda City some years ago,” he said as he was sitting on the pavement.
Sanaa Hatem, a widowed mother of four, paced in front of the building with many other residents of el-Dewiqa shantytown.
“I am with the strike and against the Cairo Governor’s methods that have left  me and my children without a low-priced flat in el-Nahda as the previous Governor, Abdul Azeem Wazir, had promised me some five years ago,” Sanaa said.
The protest was called for by the residents of randomly-built areas to force the Government to give them low-priced flats in el-Nahda and Madinat el-Sallam cities on the outskirts of Cairo.
Like dozens of other part-time Government employees and workers, Sayyeda Rateb, 34, has camped outside Sharaf’ office building demanding better working conditions and a full time job.
“I am determined not to leave until my voice is heard,” said Sayyeda.
“After the revolution, I refuse to go home empty -handed,” added Sayyeda, who works as a cleric.
For the whole day, she and her fellow demonstrators have occupied the pavement in front of the Premier’s office, sitting on the ground and using the ablution facilities of  the nearby Omar Makram Mosque.
“Our salaries are somewhere between 150 and 35 Egyptian pounds,” Sayyeda lamented.
Meanwhile, scores of Egyptian actors and actresses staged a protest near el-Tahrir Square demanding that Ashraf Zaki, the head of their trouble-hit union, as well as the members of the board to step down.
“We do not want any remnants of the Mubarak regime to stay in the Actors’ Union any more, or run for the coming elections,” the artists said.
The artists’ street protest reflects the profound political  malaise in the union where the members have vowed to remove any supporter of the Mubarak administration and express their full discontent with the counter-revolution against January 25 revolution, movie director Youssri Nasrallah said.
Among those staging the protest in front of Opera House were veteran actors Youssef Shaaban and Ashraf Abdul Ghafour, who vowed to purge the Artists’ Union of what they dismissed as “Mubarak cronies”.
Angry EgyptAir pilots, crew members and air controllers have also staged their own symbolic protest outside Cairo International Airport demanding the Prime Minister and the Prosecutor General, Abul Meguid Mahmoud, launch an immediate probe into alleged graft that had been committed by the company’s seniors during the Mubarak era.
“Our demands are simple. We want an official investigation into some corruption incidents involving huge commission that had been taken by higher up when the company bought a set of new Boeing aircraft,” said an EgyptAir pilot, who asked not to be identified.
“Why are the Government and the Egyptians being denied the right to retrieve millions of dollars have been stolen from them by the company’s ex-officials over the past 30 years?” he wondered.
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