North Sinai residents will start an open strike on 2 February to express their discontent and objection to curfew hours, Khaled Arafat, the Secretary-General of leftist Al-Karamah Party told Daily News Egypt Wednesday.
“If we protest there is going to be blood, so instead we will halt all commercial and transportation activity,” Arafat said.
The decision came following a meeting between several community representatives, including political parties, civil groups, unions and syndicates, in addition to Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in the governorate Abdullah Qandil.
“We will boycott the expected parliamentary elections and also file a lawsuit against the governor and other officials because holding elections under curfew hours is not exactly constitutional,” Arafat said.
Wednesday’s meeting followed a Monday meeting with the participation of Al-Dostour, Al-Wafd, Al-Karamah, Al-Islah Wal Tanmeya, and Misr Baladi parties, demanding the lifting of curfew hours and condemning their damaging economic consequences, in addition to the tough living conditions faced by residents amid the alarming security situation.
The first meeting concluded that escalation measures would be undertaken if the government failed to respond. Arafat also expressed deep disappointment in the state’s policies towards North Sinai, which fail to integrate it as part of the country and ignore citizens’ needs. Earlier on Wednesday, Daily News Egypt’s phone conversation with Arafat was interrupted several times due to signal problems, which he explained by saying that “most of the time there isn’t any [signal].”
“Residents are treated badly, they can barely leave town or use the roads due to safety problems, demeaning arrests and searches for suspicion of terrorism,” Arafat said.
Curfew hours imposed in the past months in some parts of the governorate, such as the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, were supposed to be lifted on 25 January, but the government extended it three months further last Sunday.
Qandil had demanded the lifting of curfew hours last November not in principle, but because they are too long, saying that “14 hours of curfew are paralyzing,” state-run Al-Ahram reported. Extended curfew was shortened by two hours to start at 7 pm and end by 6 am.
The security situation in Sinai continues to be volatile between militant groups and security forces.