Monday, April 07, 2008

Egypt arrests 500

Egypt's government said police arrested more than 500 people across the country as it suppressed a one-day national strike to protest rising food prices.

Two hundred textile workers were arrested in the northern town of Al-Mahala El-Kobra, said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, in accord with departmental policy. Police prevented a rally in Cairo's main Tahrir Square and also made arrests in the towns of Alexandria, Mansoura and Mahala.

Egyptian state employees from doctors to factory workers are demanding higher wages after a jump in food prices around the world pushed up the cost of living in a country that imports about half of its grain.

Today's arrests came as President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's longest serving leader in modern times, increases pressure on his critics. Police arrested at least 140 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition group, last month and a journalist was sentenced to six months hard labor for reporting that Mubarak was ill.

Demonstrators outside the headquarters of the lawyers' guild in Cairo today shouted slogans including: ``Keep burning us with prices and you will be burned by chaos soon'' and ``Down, down with Mubarak.'' Egyptian inflation accelerated to 12.1 percent in February from 10.1 percent in January. Bread and grain prices have jumped more than 25 percent in the past year.

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