It was the Egyptian state’s brutal restrictions on worker freedoms that transformed Kareem El-Beheiry from a disengaged lay worker into a tenacious labour activist.
Egyptian military leader General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said ousting the country’s first elected president was necessary “to preserve democracy” and resolve the political deadlock that had dangerously polarised the country. But six weeks after the coup he led, the notion that toppling Islamist president Mohamed Morsi would restore stability to Egypt has proven false.
Egyptians are deeply divided and the majority are dissatisfied with the performance of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, but also have little confidence in the main opposition figures or their future, a new poll has found.
When Mohamed Mursi was sworn in as president in June there were concerns that the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history would be subservient to the military council that had ruled the country since dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled in early 2011.
Ahmed Hassanein works in a modern factory in an industrial enclave west of Cairo. He wears a neatly pressed uniform and operates precision calibrated machinery on a line that produces components for foreign-brand passenger vehicles.
During the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year rule, Egyptian protesters stormed state security headquarters in Cairo. Inside they discovered a trove of documents – including surveillance reports on activists, transcripts of telephone conversations, and intercepted emails – that revealed the meticulous records the state kept on the activities of its citizens.
The independent trade unions that have sprung up across Egypt over the last 17 months face an uncertain future, caught between Islamists and the military and operating under labour laws that have not changed since Hosni Mubarak was in power.
If the life sentences for former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and one of his key allies were meant to placate Egyptians, they have had the opposite effect.