Economic, Social and Labor Protest Monitoring

A year of Social and Economic Protests… The Reforms’ Reckoning

Almost three years after the Egyptian state floated its currency and reduced energy subsidies, as part of a contentious “economic reform program” outlined in the terms of the IMF loan, more and more Egyptians have been struggling with harsher economic conditions. The effect of these austerity measures is gradually spreading out to affect millions of Egyptians. And despite a trend to dismiss and undermine any type of dissent, and a tendency to demonize protests as forms of foreign intervention or egoistic sectoral demands, different groups of Egyptians continued to voice their concern, anger, and dissatisfaction via various tools in 2018.

On the occasion of Labor Day, the Social Justice Platform present the annual data collected on labor, economic, and social protests that took place in 2018, accompanied by preliminary comparisons, analysis, and reflection. Amid the ongoing restrictions on civil rights, press freedoms, and the ability to organize either socially or politically, we documented a remarkable count of 2,502 protests (39.33% more than 2017). These included a huge amount of complaints and police reports, in addition to strikes, production halts, demonstrations, and sit-ins, among other forms of protests carried out by workers, farmers, and many other protesting groups. We also documented a shockingly increasing tendency for self-mutilation, and sometimes suicide, as a form of protest.

More price hikes are expected in mid-2019 as Egypt receives the last portion of the IMF loan. This goes hand in hand with an increasingly militarized public sphere and an increasingly brittle organized opposition. But despite this, and despite the state’s attempts to portray a “positive image” for the effects of the “economic reforms,” thousands of civilians throughout the country have been protesting harsh conditions, notwithstanding firmer restrictions on the right to association. Civilians, workers, students, professionals, farmers, and villagers have not ceased to express themselves, demanding social justice and a better life.

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