On Friday 20 September, people in Egypt took to the streets in some of the first protests since President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi took power in 2014. Here is the statement by the Revolutionary Socialists, written on 21 September 2019.
Whatever the outcome of the demonstrations we are witnessing, and whether or not you stand with them or against them, it is certain that the grip of terror on the hearts of people across Egypt is slackening and that the wall of fear built by the regime during the last six years is cracking and close to collapse. The departure of Sisi is no longer a distant dream, but nearer than ever before.
The courage of the women and men who have protested despite the consequences they will face, deserves to be saluted as well as prompting reflection. Without a doubt they have restored hope to millions who have succumbed to despair after the defeat of the January 2011 revolution. Although no-one knows exactly where courage without leadership or organisation will take us, we do know at least that the people are much stronger than they seemed until just a few hours ago.
The Revolutionary Socialist movement salutes those who have demonstrated without knowing either their fate or the results of their protests. We salute those who have faced repression and detention by Sisi’s Ministry of the Interior, because they have opened the way for the masses also to express their hopes, their aspirations and their anger.
During the six years which have passed since Sisi came to power in a counter-revolution following his coup against the late President Mohamed Morsi, the general has carried out as many crimes as possible – murders, torture, and enforced disappearances. Initially, he relied on popularity he created by spreading fear of the ‘danger of the Muslim Brotherhood’ at times or of foreign plots at others. But little by little, under the pressure of a brutal process of impoverishment, the like of which the country has not seen for at least fifty years, his popularity has begun to fade away. Meanwhile, the fist of repression has crushed any attempts even to express a rejection of austerity and poverty, to the point that everyone is aware that Sisi runs the country just as an armed thug controls a group of unarmed people he has kidnapped.
During the last few days we have seen the intolerable provocation of leaked information circulating about the involvement of Sisi and his family in systematic corruption which diverts public resources towards building presidential palaces at the same time the official discourse still clings to a rhetoric demanding more patience in the face of price rises, austerity and poverty. This follows the official announcement about two months ago that poverty levels have risen from 27.8 % in 2015 to 32.5 %in 2017/18, according to research into levels of income, expenditure and consumption, carried out by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.
What has happened so far is only the beginning of the collapse of the wall of fear and despair, a beginning which can only be deepened and protected by vigilance on the part of the masses who must be prepared to fight to the end against dictatorship. They must learn not to rise up simply so that others can reap the fruits of their revolution and their sacrifices. Any change which does not remove the military from power, thus bringing freedom and justice for the people, will lead to the theft of the revolution from the masses once again, and this cannot be allowed to happen.
Down with military rule!
The Revolutionary Socialists
21 September 2019