CAIRO - There was a disappointing turnout for a national strike in Egypt on Saturday, reflecting divisions on the best way to respond to the country's unpopular military rulers. The strike had been called by opposition groups on the first anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak's removal from power.
Public buses and trains were operating normally across Cairo, despite announcements by subway workers that they were staging a slowdown strike.
Navigation was also as normal in the Suez Canal, despite calls by activists for waterway workers to join the strike.
Public sector workers, for their part, pledged to work extra hours, signaling their disagreement with the strike, according to media reports.
The protesters, mainly university students, have called for collective acts of civil disobedience to pressure the military to speed up the transfer of power.
However, only about 200 people gathered in Tahrir Square, the now iconic scene of major anti-Mubarak protests last year.
"I am on strike because Mubarak's regime is not gone, nothing has changed. Members of the [military] council are Mubarak's loyalists," said Mohamed, a university student.
Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abul-Naga said the low turnout showed that "Egyptians from all sectors rejected the call for civil disobedience."
Muslim and Coptic religious figures have condemned the strike, and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood group, which controls nearly half of the newly elected parliament, said it would not take part in any action that would hurt the economy.
However, undeterred activists said they would continue with the strike, adding that its effects would become visible over the next days.
Security sources said they had detained an Australian journalist and a U.S. student accused of paying people to take part in a strike by opposition groups.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now