AFP - Egyptian police clashed with protesters in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla on Sunday, firing tear gas and arresting dozens after plans for a strike at the city's textile factory were scrapped under pressure from security forces.
Angry residents demanding an end to price hikes and soaring inflation set two schools ablaze and burnt tyres along the city's railway.
"At least 150 people have been arrested in the protests and police were forced to use teargas to disperse protesters," a security official told AFP.
Despite official claims that the industrial action had failed, traffic was unusually light on the first day of the Egyptian working week, AFP reporters said. Attendance at schools and universities was also lower than usual.
Analysts said that even though a massive strike did not take place nationally, the call to strike was significant in itself.
"We must not underestimate the call. Even if it did not have a large effect, it's the first time such a call has been made," Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyed, a politics professor at the American University in Cairo, told AFP.
He said the move "reflects a general feeling of discontent in the country."
Sky-rocketing food prices in Egypt this year have been met in recent weeks by a rumbling wave of popular discontent and unprecedented strikes and demonstrations.
The UN's World Food Programme said this month that the average household expenditure in Egypt had risen by 50 percent since January 1.
RLCC Comment: The world economy is feeling the inevitably negative impact of greed. Only unselfishness will pull it out of the coming fire.
, obtained via: , April 6, 2008, 2:07pm