Even as the Egyptian government’s obstruction of the Global Conscience Convoy continued, we continued meeting with local pro-Palestine groups. On Nov. 24, we visited the headquarters of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party (SPAP) in Cairo.
SPAP is one of many organizations working in conjunction with the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate to organize the Global Conscience Convoy to the Rafah crossing. It was founded in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, after the merger of several socialist organizations that faced repression under U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak.
SPAP leaders were kind enough to welcome us for an afternoon of Turkish coffee and discussion. We spoke about a variety of topics, including the genocide in Palestine and the class struggle in Egypt. Over the last decade, the El-Sisi military junta has escalated anti-worker policies in the form of crackdowns on labor unions.
Since Egypt’s independence struggle in the mid-1950s, trade unions have played an important role in Egyptian society. Many trade unions were actually integrated into the state structure during President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab socialist administration.
In 2011, trade unions played a massive role in the political revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak. This is precisely why the current U.S.-backed military regime has declared open season on Egyptian unions. Ever since Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the military launched their coup in 2013, the status of trade unions in Egypt has significantly worsened.
Workers under attack
Egyptian trade unions face repression from both the capitalist bosses, many of whom are contractors for Western conglomerates, and a government that is entirely chained to big business and U.S. imperialism. In 2018, the government decertified over 1,000 independent unions. Only 122 of those unions were able to regain state recognition.
El-Sisi’s administration has also made it nearly impossible for Egyptian workers to strike. For workers to go on strike, their union must provide management and the government with a full list of workers who intend to strike, how long they will be on strike, and where they intend to picket. This notice must be provided three months prior to any planned strike.
El-Sisi keeps the working class weak and the Western capitalists well-fed with investment opportunities, development deals, and military aid requests – requests that the U.S. government happily obliges.
This is the reality that the SPAP and other parties must contend with every day in Egypt. And all the while, they must also continue the struggle for Palestinian solidarity, a struggle that has been met with growing hostility from the El-Sisi military regime.
Solidarity with Palestine
We witnessed people flowing in and out of the SPAP office to donate money and supplies to the Palestinian aid effort. This included a family with two small children, both under the age of 10.
One child’s name was Nadim. He goes to one of the best elementary schools in Cairo. He speaks fluent Arabic, English, and Italian.
While we finished our meeting, we asked Nadim how the death of children in Gaza made him feel. He told us it made him angry, and it made him want to fight Israel.
He told us that if he could, he would hack Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile system and turn it back on Israeli neighborhoods so they could feel the terror that Palestinians feel every second of the day.
This child is angry, and justifiably so. He is tired of watching fellow Arab children be butchered for the profits of a few.
Aren’t we all?
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