Egyptian-Wisconsin solidarity

In only 18 days, the Egyptian people rose up against the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, with hundreds laying down their lives due to violent police suppression of the peaceful demonstrations.

The revolution successfully sparked inspiration and hope in the hearts of millions worldwide, including people all across the United States.

On Feb. 12, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed an Emergency Budget Repair Bill that is only backed by the state’s Republican legislators. Most strikingly, the legislation forbids all employees in the public sector to collectively bargain and negotiate terms of employment.

Having witnessed in admiration the Egyptian revolution on television and through social media outlets, many people in Wisconsin have cited the Egyptians as having influenced their very own protests.

Nikki Shonoiki, a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, said, “I think a lot of people were inspired by what happened in Egypt … I saw a lot of signs about Egypt.” Shonoiki explains that she supported it because it was a non-violent movement.

The solidarity between union workers and society is widely felt throughout Wisconsin, where universities have canceled entire days of classes in protest, students have coordinated with professor walkouts, former and current football players of the Green Bay Packers have publicly stated their support of the protests, and people from diverse occupations including teachers and police have united together to fill the state Capitol.

Shonoiki attended protests at both the Capitol and on campus.

“There’s an insidious agenda that [Gov. Walker] has in what he is doing in this Budget Repair Bill,” which is why she is protesting it as an attack on peoples’ right to collectively bargain.

Those who cannot personally attend the demonstrations have demonstrated their solidarity using other means.

Ian’s, a local pizzeria located blocks away from the Capitol in Madison, has received orders from 38 states and 12 countries to donate pizza to Wisconsin’s protesters. On Feb. 20, Politico reported that one of the pizza orders came from — you guessed it — Egypt.

In addition to sending some pizza loving, Kamal Abbas, the general coordinator of the Egyptian Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS), released a statement of solidarity to the workers of Wisconsin.

He states, “I am speaking to you from a place very close to … ‘Liberation Square,’ which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt … From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.”

Abbas holds that humanity is in solidarity with the struggle, and that the people of Wisconsin will win if they “stand firm … in demanding your just rights.”

As more instances like the Egyptian-Wisconsin camaraderie continue to rise up, one must question, is this the new future of massive demonstrations for creating positive social change?

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