Egypt: One Year On

For some in Egypt — enough protests already!

Stephen Beard Jan 27, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: This week, people in Egypt are celebrating the one year anniversary of their revolution, when mass protests across the country toppled the government.

Our own Stephen Beard is in Egypt this week looking at the economy, “One Year On”. Today, the ongoing protests, and why some say they’re hurting Egypt’s economy.

Stephen Beard: Another fiery orator belts out his message in Tahrir Square: “Down with Mubarak,” “death to dictatorship,” “out with the military council.” This does not go down well here in the Khan Bazaar, which is eerily quiet. The tourists have been frightened away from Egypt. And the stallholders here blame the protesters.

Yasser Mahmoud Aly has seen his souvenir sales slump by 80 percent over the past year. He says: I’m fed up with the people in Tahrir. I want them to leave and leave us in peace.

He and his brother Tamer supported the revolution, but now Tamer says democracy is on its way; Egypt must get off the protest bandwagon and start earning its living.

Tamer Mahmoud Aly: No, no, staying in Tahrir, no talking in Tahrir. Finish. Now we need working.

This is not just an anguished cry from the souk. From her stylish office overlooking the Nile, the head of a leading economics think tank, Magda Kandil delivers the same message to the protesters.

Magda Kandil: Shut up. Just wait it out until the process is complete and allow the country to recover from all this lingering uncertainty.

She claims the continuing protests have also put off much needed foreign investment. She says everyone should calm down and take the military at its word. The army has pledged to hand over power in June.

But Wael Gamel, managing editor of El Sharook newspaper, is skeptical. He thinks the protesters are right.

Wael Gamel: Ordinary Egyptians want their lives to get better and this didn’t happen. So they will continue to protest, to revolt. We’re waiting for the next confrontation, and it’s going to happen.

The Tahrir protesters are beginning to look like a permanent fixture. Egypt’s Arab Spring could yet stretch into a series of long hot summers.

In Cairo, I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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