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Unease Grows as Egyptian Protests Continue, Fragment
February 16, 2011

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The situation in Egypt is getting more and more unsettled, with the focus of protests fragmenting and the ruling military council continuing to try to halt sweeping labor action that threatens to further paralyze the country. Protesters have planned another large march in Cairo for Friday.

Even though most people have left central places like Cairo's Tahrir Square, they are, in many cases, still not back to work. Many state-owned businesses, facing the prospect of strikes and protests, are open for reduced hours or shut altogether. Banks and the national stock exchange have not reopened in more than a week. Even Cairo International Airport was the focus of a strike by hundreds of airport employees (although no flights were disrupted). Workers at a chemical plant spoke out against the plant's waste removal policy (in a local lake). Employees of a major textile manufacturer are in the streets, calling for an investigation into alleged corruption at their place of employment. More than 60 women's groups have complained that the civilian group formed to amend the constitution had only men on it.

The generals in charge of the government have again called for an end to industrial action; although it is not an outright ban, the call is the second in three days and suggests that the army and/or police might have to take action to get people off the streets and back to work.

The situation is even more chaotic among the people who had the protests in the first place, as they are now struggling with a focal point now that their main aim — the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak — has been achieved. Members of various political groups are eyeing one another warily and sharing their highest skepticism for the Muslim Brotherhood, which just yesterday announced that it would form a political party.

Some of the leading members of the protest movement have gotten together to form a “Council of Trustees,” hoping to negotiate with the men looking to make all the legal changes.

Meanwhile, the constitutional review group continued its efforts, saying only that they had no instruction to change the entire law of the land but only a mandate to amend certain laws in order to grant the Egyptian people more freedoms and a more representative government.

With the banks and stock exchanged closed, the country struggled anew to achieve any kind of serious money flow. Tourism, one of the country's main sources of income, has ground to a halt.

The Health Ministry has set the death toll for the 18 days of anti-government protests at 365, not including police or prisoners.

Political protests continued in other countries, most notably Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Libya, and Yemen, with various levels of violence reported in response to large gatherings of people demanding reform.



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