Egyptian demonstrators held sporadic anti-government protests on Monday, but opposition calls for a nationwide strike failed to draw large crowds.
Opposition activists had called on all Egyptians to dress in black, boycott work and university classes, and petition officials with wide-ranging grievances during a “day of anger”.
The list of demands put forward by strike organisers ranged from better schooling and public transport to an independent judiciary and the restoration of Egypt’s Nubian minority to their ancestral homeland, Reuters reports.
“We’re here today … to declare our stance on the deterioration that is happening, on the repression taking place and the corruption in Egypt,” leading opposition politician, Ayman Nour, told reporters at a small protest in front of a government building in Cairo.
Witnesses said police deployed truckloads of security forces to common protest points such as universities and professional syndicates where riot police hemmed in small groups of strikers.
Police clashed with protesters at Ain Shams University and 15 students were detained, a security source said.
Although some people heeded the opposition call to take to the streets, many others like student Hala Saber ignored it. “It’s not related to us. I don’t care about it,” Saber said.
The government had cracked down on activists calling for a strike over the past few weeks, detaining bloggers and pamphleteers.
The main opposition group behind the protest call, the Sixth of April Youth, was formed after the 2008 violence and has since transformed into a broader anti-government movement.
The strike was supported by the liberal Ghad party as well as some members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, arguably the only single political force capable of rallying hundreds of thousands of protesters.
Muslim Brotherhood politicians had said they would not take part in Monday’s session of parliament in solidarity with the strike but stopped short of calling for mass protests.