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Egypt’s very own ‘trial of the century’

Marketplace Staff Aug 3, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Over in Egypt today, ousted leader — and a very ill Hosni Mubarak — is in a courtroom and on trial for allegedly conspiring to kill protesters. The case is being shown live on Egyptian television and millions are watching. What does having its very own trial of the century mean to the Egyptian economy?

Reporter Julia Simon is with us now from Cairo with more on that. Good morning, Julia.

JULIA SIMON: Hi, Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: How does Cairo look today? I mean, are people going about their daily lives?

SIMON: This is really extraordinary — and across downtown I saw crowds gathered in the streets watching the trial on TV, peopel in coffee shops. I was at a coffee shop near the Cairo stock exchange this morning where dozens of people were sitting on plastic chairs watching the trial, and I asked customer Yehia Makawy if he was going to work. He said no and started counting his colleagues who were here in the coffee shop not in the office — and he said actually his manager was leaving the office to come watch too so, a lot of Egyptians aren’t at work this morning.

Chiotakis: Not a lot of work getting done. What does this mean for the Egyptian economy in terms of loss of productivity?

SIMON: Unfortunately, not much. It’s Ramadan, one, so people aren’t working a lot anyway. But, the economy has already taken a big hit in the six months since the revolution. Some of the guys who I met watching the trial at the cafe actually work in tourism, which is one area of the economy that suffering. So it wasn’t actually a big deal that they were at work. Yesterday the Cairo stock exchange fell 2.1 percent, so, you know a few hours ago people didn’t even expect Mubarak to show up so we’ll see how the market reacts now that he’s in the courtroom.

CHIOTAKIS: Reporter Julia Simon in Cairo. Julia, thank you.

SIMON: Thank you.

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