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Egypt: The Government Preventively Forbids Sales Of Yellow Vests

The government fears the yellow vest movement will reach Egypt.

(c) BORIS HORVAT / AFP

Born in France, the Yellow Vest Movement has received a lot of attention worldwide in the past few weeks, especially in Egypt. According to AP and the Washington Post, the Egyptian government has decided to forbid the sale of the garment which is now directly associated with violent protest scenes.

The authorities fear that the French yellow vests will inspire the Egyptian people while the anniversary of the 2011 revolution is approaching, after sparking similar events in various European countries such as Belgium,  the Netherlands and Germany.

Egypt is about to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the 2011 Revolution which had led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and to a freer regime. According to AP, the government quietly introduced restrictions to try and prevent a gathering as the Yellow Vest one Made in Egypt.

Industrial safety equipment dealers received the instruction not to sell yellow reflective vests to the citizens, restricting their business to wholesale sales to verified companies, only after securing police permission. This measure will last until the end of January, long enough after the anniversary date.

Some retailers spoke anonymously to AP, explaining that: "The police came here a few days back and told us to stop selling them. When we asked why they said they were acting on instructions".

"Egyptian Authorities Sometimes Use Violence To Repress Protests"

"Images of the yellow vests in Paris were shown in Egypt. Egyptians had access to the videos of the protests, some of which showing violence and ransackings", explains Leila Rousselet, International Relations researcher and VP of the Open Diplomacy Institute.

The law is particularly strict when it comes to gatherings in Egypt, except for a few particular occasions. Current president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who has been ruling the country since 2014, still dreads the anniversary of the revolution which took place January 25, 2011. The researcher explains:

"Egyptian authorities sometimes use violence to repress protests. Each year, Egyptian authorities put a certain number of measures in place. There are important contingents of both soldiers and police officers deployed to avoid potential escalations and massive commemoration gatherings."

The Egyptian government knows, as AP underlines, that the 2011 revolution happened following the Arab Springs.

While the movement seems to be slowing down in France, will Egypt take over? Although Egyptians claims are very different from the French ones, could the yellow vest nonetheless become a universal symbol of popular discontent?

By Clothilde Bru, published on 12/12/2018

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