Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 September 2020

Egypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression

Egypt's autocratic president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, photo by

Egypt's autocratic president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, photo by   (Click to enlarge)

David Johnson, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

Popular support for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's dictatorial regime is vanishing. Only 14% of adults took part in August's Senate election, despite polling stations staying open for two days, and voting being compulsory.

A list of non-voters has been sent for prosecution. Fines of up to LE500 (24.50) can be issued; the equivalent of one week's legal minimum wage. But with 54 million people on this list, it is unlikely many will pay!

The Senate is a toothless 'advisory' body set up by al-Sisi, who appoints 100 of its 300 members. This election, like the regime as a whole, is reminiscent of the sham elections held under former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted by a mass uprising in February 2011.


Last year, al-Sisi engineered a change in the constitution to allow him to remain president until 2034, following the examples of Erdogan in Turkey and Xi Jinping in China. But the 2011 uprising remains a tremendous reminder of the power of mass movements to bring down dictators despite their armed state machines.

Brutal stamping down on the opposition is even worse under al-Sisi than under Mubarak.

Opponents are described and treated as "terrorists". On 25 August, el-Din Hassan, a prominent human rights activist, was sentenced to 15 years jail by the counter-terrorism court created in 2017.

Normal judicial processes do not apply in the court and there is no right of appeal. El-Din Hassan commented on Twitter and at UN human rights meetings about the justice system's failure to hold state officials accountable for widespread killings, torture, and disappearances since al-Sisi took power in 2014. Bahei el-Din Hassan lives in exile, but thousands of other less well-known activists suffer in prison.

Critical journalists and TV presenters have been fired. Three young women TikTok 'influencers' with followings of up to 1.3 million were arrested. The regime is fearful of any possible avenues for public dissent.

During the coronavirus lockdown, many children flew kites. State authorities worried these could be used to fly banners or cameras, banning them in July. Hundreds of kites were confiscated in Alexandria and Cairo, and parents fined up to LE1000!

In September 2019, protests broke out on the streets after one disaffected Egyptian businessman living in Spain posted on Facebook his account of the corruption of Egyptian state officials. Everyone knows that corruption has continued since, despite the occasional example of a high-profile businessman linked to the Mubarak family being prosecuted.

Al-Sisi's regime rests on support from senior military officers. The armed forces have considerable business interests, which sometimes conflict with other sections of the capitalist class who were close to Hosni Mubarak and his sons.

The government approved just one private company to carry out paid-for Covid-19 testing - 'Prime Speed Medical' - in which Tamer Wagih is a major investor.

He was an executive of al-Sisi's 2014 election campaign and now chairs the university hospital council with links to the ministry of higher education, which indirectly oversees Prime Speed Medical's testing.

By the end of August, there had been almost 99,000 cases of Covid-19 and almost 5,400 deaths, according to official figures. These are almost certainly underestimates - Egypt's under-financed health services cannot test or treat all those who are unable to pay for health care. Health workers who spoke out about PPE shortages have been threatened, and at least nine arrested between March and June.


While some of al-Sisi's cronies are making money from the pandemic, millions of low-paid public sector workers have had a 1% pay cut. Pensions were cut 0.5%. Electricity price subsidies have also been cut. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in tourism-related industries.

Five-and-a-half million Egyptians work abroad. Many were furloughed or lost jobs and were unable to send money home to support their families.

In late August the regime started demolishing thousands of illegally built homes unless residents pay expensive fees. Tens of thousands of families face sudden homelessness, some after living in their homes over forty years.

Meanwhile, unused industrial land is to be exempted from real estate tax - a key business demand in recent years.

Egypt's huge state debt means the government aims to keep the budget deficit down to a level that allows it to borrow on international markets without sky-high interest rates. Foreign investors withdrew 50% of their Treasury bill holdings between February and March this year. International Monetary Fund loans, totalling US$8billion this year, come with conditions - more privatisation and public spending cuts.

Workers organising together to demand better pay and decent public services would threaten big business' profits and the foreign investment the government is desperate to retain.

Egypt's large and potentially powerful working class has been unable to make its voice heard, so far, under al-Sisi's iron-fisted regime. But just as Mubarak found out, anger and resentment building below the surface can eventually erupt like a volcano. Despite the present dangers and difficulties, workers need to organise.

A key lesson of the 2011 uprising was that workers need their own political party so that the working class can act together, for their own interests, and draw behind it other poor and oppressed people.

Building a mass party under conditions of military repression is extremely difficult, but activists can start to assemble the framework upon which such a party could rapidly develop when conditions change.

Discussion is vital to draw up the socialist programme necessary to make real and lasting change for Egypt's workers and youth and how to relate it to their issues of daily concern. Not only Egypt but the whole Middle East and North Africa desperately needs socialism and workers' democracy.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 16 September 2020:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Our lives and livelihoods at stake

Sketch: The rule of six - some guidance from your government

Johnson's brinkmanship over EU deal deepens capitalist splits

Blame politicians, not workers and young people

Capitalist profit and the race to develop a vaccine

'Covid marshalls' must be accountable to communities

Under the microscope


Angry health workers demand 15% now!

NHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

Workplace news and analysis

National Shop Stewards Network lobbying for a lead from the TUC

PCS members in DWP reject unsafe extension of hours

Ireland: Debenham's occupier speaks out

London bus drivers begin strike ballot over remote sign-on dispute

Tate workers on indefinite strike hold march and rally

Reinstate Tony Smith

Reinstate Richie Venton


Dispatches from the front: schools need Covid tests!

Public services

Covid and the third sector: for public planning, not charity stopgaps

Labour Party

Non-fiction: Left Out - the inside story of Labour under Corbyn

International socialist news and analysis

Egypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression

Nigerian police repress peaceful anti-government protest

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Two weeks to donate: we need your help

Coventry: scrap 'profit before people' hospital parking charges

Covid generation says 'fund our future'

Why I joined the Socialist Party: Tories and Blairites only care about corporate greed

Selling the Socialist


Home   |   The Socialist 16 September 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleEgypt: Street protests challenge Trump's favourite dictator

triangleCounter-revolution in Sudan

triangleExclusive interview with Gazan activist: "The more they kill us, the more the anger increases"

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

triangleAttacks ratchet-up Syrian conflict and fuel tensions between powers

Middle East:

triangleBirmingham SE Socialist Party: Middle East mass protests - a socialist way forward

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Starmer wins Labour leadership - do we need a new political party for the working class?

triangleYemen's desperate civil war fuelled by imperialism and regional powers

triangleSyria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution





Nigeria protests shake regime



Bolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory



"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"



US presidential election



Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists



Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit



'Frozen conflict' reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave



Germany: "Heroes" strike to demand a pay rise



Trump's failure over western US wildfires



US: Police escape justice over Breonna Taylor killing


South Africa

South Africa: Working class unity to stop violence against women



Still crawling at 60: Capitalism has failed Nigeria



Thailand: Youth rising against hated junta



Egypt: Support for al-Sisi dwindles as his regime increases repression



Nigerian police repress peaceful anti-government protest

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020