In recent weeks, France has been the center of massive protests, organized by residents across the political spectrum, in response to a gas tax increase that would greatly impact an already struggling working class. The demonstrations have been called the “yellow jacket” protests, named for the yellow construction vests worn by a large majority of the protesters.
It was reported that so far in the clashes between protesters and police there have been at least 3 deaths, with over 135 injured and over 1000 arrests. It was estimated that there were at least 125,000 people protesting throughout the country, with roughly 10,000 protesting in Paris.
In the midst of the protests, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that the government would be suspending the controversial gas tax increase. However, the suspension is only for a 6 month period, after which the government can just impose the same law.
Similar “yellow jacket” protests have spread to places like Belgium and the Netherlands.
Fearing copycat protests, Egyptian authorities have severely restricted the sale of yellow working vests similar to the ones worn by the protesters in France.
According to the Associated Press, the political class of Egypt is concerned the yellow jacket movement in France may embolden Egyptians who are understandably displeased with the direction that the government has taken since the 2011 revolution.
The AP reported that industrial safety equipment dealers have been restricted from selling yellow vests to the public, and to only fill wholesale orders for verified companies, but only with police approval.
A vendor who works in downtown Cairo told the AP that he was instructed by police to stop selling the vests.
“They seem not to want anyone to do what they are doing in France,” one vendor told the AP. “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,” another said.
Despite the fact that Egypt did manage to get rid of one tyrant in 2011, he was replaced by another military dictatorship that is equally as brutal. Protests are currently illegal in Egypt, and many of the goals of the revolution have not been realized, although the same thing can be said about the French revolution of the late 18th century.
The protesters have a wide range of different philosophical beliefs, but they have all come together for this common goal, to fight a common enemy. There are a few issues the demonstrators agree on though, and that an end to the fuel tax and the resignation of President Macron.
Instead of accepting responsibility for the consequences of their policies, French officials have blamed Russian Facebook accounts for sowing distrust in the country. The story of the yellow jackets has been largely absent from the American mainstream media, aside from passing mentions of riot and looting, selectively reported to demonize protesters.
This week, president Macron gave a half-hearted speech where he showed no signs of giving in or backing down on any major policies, and especially showed no intention of stepping down.