A call by more than 30 opposition groups to begin an indefinite general strike on saturday was barely heeded. Two foreigners arrested north of cairo for allegedly inciting workers to protest.
Trains and buses in the capital cairo ran as usual. Businesses had opened, and regular operations were reported at the airport. Only in tahrir square did a few hundred people gather to protest.
In an industrial city in the nile delta, an australian journalist and a u.S. Student were arrested in connection with the strike calls. According to security sources, they are accused of paying workers in mahalla al-kubra, north of cairo, to take part in the protest action. An egyptian who had accompanied both of them as a translator had also been taken into custody.
Egypt’s opposition had been using work stoppages and a campaign of civil disobedience to force the ruling military council to hand over power to civilian rule. But there was immediate criticism, especially from religious groups. Both muslim and coptic clerics condemned the call for the strike. The islamist muslim brotherhood, which has a majority in the new parliament, said it would not participate in any action that would harm the egyptian economy.
The military council confirmed to hand over the power until july. At the same time, the army has again made a visible presence felt throughout the country in recent days. Armored vehicles and soldiers secured important institutions and main roads. The militaries had taken control of the country after mubarak’s ouster a year ago.
Meanwhile, the trial of the former ruler continues one year after his overthrow. By mid-february, the defendants are expected to have completed their arguments. Then it will be announced when the verdict will fall. Parliament has already called for an acceleration of the judicial process. Members of parliament from various parties criticized that the trial for the killing of 846 demonstrators during the mass protests a year ago was proceeding far too slowly. Prosecution demands death penalty.
Besides mubarak, who usually appears in court on his sickbed, his two sons, ex-interior minister habib al-adli and other ex-officials are also accused in the trial. They are accused of involvement in the killing of protesters and corruption.