CAIRO—This week marks the one year anniversary since an Egyptian government run by the Muslim Brotherhood and led by Mohamed Mursi was formed.
In that year, the economy has slumped, in part because tourism — a staple of a state that has little to export except an experience of its storied past and fabulous monuments — has all but disappeared. Disconsolate restaurateurs lean on their doorposts, beckoning a foreigner in to empty tables.
Enormous lines that are five or six hours long pile up at gas stations; two power outages, hours long, yesterday afflicted the Cairo suburb where I am presently staying with a friend. Prices are rising even though nearly half of the population is trying to live on two dollars or less a day. The patchwork of groups and forces opposed to President Mursi are assuring everyone that the dire state of the economy, and the lack of a program to address it, are what have solidified ordinary people behind their call for new elections now, three years ahead of the end of Mursi’s term of office.
In Tahrir Square, the international symbol of a revolution that dethroned one tyrant and appears to have opened the route for another, groups of mainly young men and some women stand about and talk and sometimes speechify all day. Behind them, wall paintings of martyrs killed in the early days of the 2011 revolution stare out into the crowds.
At night, the big square is filled with people, ever more as the days pass. In the evening, the many opposition TV channels show live pictures from other cities — Alexandria, Port Said — where the same thing is happening. The same Egyptian flags are waved; the same slogans are chanted. On Sunday June 30, vast demonstrations are planned across the country, backed by a petition with many millions of signatures calling for Mursi to go.