Saturday witnessed the first day of escalation by government employees against the newly issued Civil Services law, with the attendance of several labour syndicates in the Fustat Park in Cairo.
Protesters say despite heavy police presence and diverted media attention, due the announcement of the resignation of the cabinet, the demonstration “achieved its goals”.
The Solidarity Coordination to Refuse the Civil Service Law, which includes 35 syndicates, issued a statement after the protest saying that that hundreds attended the protest despite police “efforts to distract and misguide protesters out of the Fustat Park, where the protest took place.”
The coordination said that the police emptied streets around the park to make it harder for protesters to take transportation. It added that in some cases security forces banned protesters from entering the park citing “the ongoing maintenance of the park”.
According to a statement, the coordination filed a report to the General Prosecutor, accusing the police of barring the protesters entry to the place of the demonstration.
On the other side of the park gathered a group of pro-regime protesters, who chanted in support for the police, the army, and the government. They also danced to nationalistic songs, and carried Egyptian flags. Some protesters said they tried to create tensions between the two sides. Although the pro-government protestors demonstrated in the street outside the park, they were not harassed.
The government workers’ chants were repeated against the law and other “classist” measures by the government like “the increase in military pensions”.
The protest remained to 4pm, the closing time of the park. Upon exiting the park, protesters were involved in minor verbal clashes with pro-government demonstrators.
Hoda Kamel, a protester, said: “Despite efforts by the police to ban protesters from entering the park either by car or by foot, despite the furious distortion campaigns by the media, and despite the distraction of the media by the cabinet resignation, the protest was able to break the siege.”
Kamel added that groups from Alexandria, Sinai and other government arrived, as well as delegations from doctors, taxes, and train station workers syndicates attended to “breaking the fear that the protest might be forcefully dispersed”.
Days before the protest, rumours were circulated that riot police will apply the controversial protest law to disperse any “illegal gathering”, while others said that thugs might storm in the demonstrations. Kamel said that the “fight against the Civil Service law has just begun”.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported that protesters had legal permission to protest inside the park.
According to the 2013 decree by the governor of Cairo, protests are permitted on 20 acres of the Fustat Park.
As the government is currently occupied with the ongoing reshuffle which might strike various ministries, no comments on the protest were provided.