Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood turns to flour power

June 14, 2013

(A man carries bread on wooden racks to be sold to customers in Cairo, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

The bread queue can be a dangerous and dishonest place in Egypt. People have killed over state-subsidized loaves. Corruption blights much of the trade.

The problems, says the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, are why it has introduced a new way to deliver bread – safely and cleanly – from bakeries to homes.

“Bread isn’t my line of work, but it’s important, so I freed up my time,” said Mohamed Gaber, a Brotherhood activist spearheading one delivery project in a run-down part of Alexandria where five people were killed in bread-related fights last August.

The scheme may deliver in other ways, too. The Muslim Brotherhood-led administration is losing support. Opposition groups say that President Mohamed Mursi and his government are incompetent economic managers obsessed with entrenching their power.

The Brotherhood, meantime, openly complains of obstruction from state institutions and bureaucrats. Frustrated that it cannot seem to change the system from within, the Brotherhood has begun to deploy street-level workers to fix everyday problems that resonate with millions of poor Egyptians.

Bread is one of Egypt’s most explosive issues. President Anwar Sadat triggered riots when he cut the bread subsidy in 1977, while President Hosni Mubarak faced unrest in 2008 when the rising price of wheat caused shortages. When Egyptians rose up against Mubarak’s rule two years ago, one of their signature chants went: “Bread, freedom and social justice.”

Read the full story by Tom Perry and Abdel Rahman Youssefhere.

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