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Analyst: Egyptian Protesters Angered Over Economic 'Bribe'

  • Peter Clottey

Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they march in Alexandria, Egypt, Feb 8, 2011

Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they march in Alexandria, Egypt, Feb 8, 2011

An Egyptian scholar told VOA protesters are expressing anger at what he described as the government’s ploy to economically bribe them with a 15 percent pay hike to, in his words, undermine the “revolution,” which demands President Hosni Mubarak immediately step down.

Said Sadek, professor of political sociology at the American University of Cairo, also said the protest received a significant boost Tuesday following an emotional television interview with Wael Ghonim, a Google employee, who was freed Monday after being detained by Egyptian authorities.

“The Egyptian government tried to fool the people with some economic measures. They gave a political economic bribe of 15 percent raise to all government employees. And so, people began by saying, ‘Why are they giving this bribe and, if they had this money, why didn’t they give it to them before?’” asked Sadek.

“The people began to feel that the government was doing that so that people abandon the revolution. So, they were very angry about that and they decided to continue the revolution.”

More protesters joined the tens of thousands already in Cairo's Tahrir Square Tuesday, despite President Mubarak's decision to form committees to oversee democratic reforms.

Sadek said the protesters “totally” reject what he said are the government’s transition plans.

“Any revolution has a price and Egyptians today feel that they will go for that price if the end result is total freedom and respect for human rights, and that they take charge of their own lives. The people want to bring down the regime. It is not them (protesters) causing this (economic) damage. The damage is caused by (an) irresponsible ruling gang. By the way, dignity and human rights have no price,” said Sadek.

“We cannot measure the dignity of people by economic loses. When I went to Tahrir square today, I saw many poor people, but they were sharing food and they were sharing everything, which is national unity.”

He also accused the Mubarak government of creating divisions among the people of Egypt for nearly three decades.

Anti-Mubarak activists occupied the square for a 15th day Tuesday in their campaign to force the president's immediate resignation. Mr. Mubarak told his nation one week ago that he will not run for a sixth term in the next election due in September.

Protests have continued and grown despite Mr. Mubarak's announcement. The huge gathering is seen as a test of the demonstrators' ability to maintain pressure on a government they believe is only providing superficial concessions.

Vice President Omar Suleiman said Tuesday that Mr. Mubarak had issued decrees establishing one committee to draft constitutional reforms and a second committee to monitor their implementation. The reforms are aimed at relaxing eligibility rules for the presidency and imposing term limits, key demands of Egypt's opposition.