Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Egyptians blame poverty and police for food riots

BBC News published on Tuesday, April 22 comments from six residents of Egypt’s northern industrial town of Mahalla, where police and locals clashed on April 6 and 7. The residents blamed the unrest on poverty and the police.

Amani Mohammed, a 35-year-old banana seller, says that food prices keep rising for a population that is already poor enough. She buys bananas at about 46 cents, and sells them for around 61 cents. “Life is expensive, I can barely afford to keep myself and my daughter,” Mohammed said. She added that she blames the riots on the police, who shot rubber bullets at people on the streets and in the market.

Hashma Saleh, a 40-year-old nurse, was shot in her leg and chest during the riots as she was making her way back from work. She too, expressed her discontent at rising food prices, saying, “I can’t afford it. I can’t save a penny.”

A cloth seller, Mohamed Selim, age 54, had to remove his son from school due to rising prices, and will have to do the same for his daughter as well. Like everyone else, he is frustrated by the poverty. “We have children; they need food and they need to go to school,” he said.

Mona Mostafa, a 50-year-old single mother, used to live with her son before he was taken by the police on April 6. He was the family’s breadwinner. She has been unsuccessful in finding new information on his whereabouts. “I am going out of my mind; I just want my son back,” Mostafa said.

Mohamed Al-Sayed, a factory worker, age 35, said the workers had nothing to do with the clashes and have traditionally staged peaceful walkouts. In addition to frustration over low salaries amidst the higher cost of food and housing, there is also irritation over the poor transportation system. “It is bad for everyone,” he said. “Prices used to go up annually, now they go up every hour.”

Elham Mohamed, a street vendor, draws parallels between the riots and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because the people had stones while the police held guns. He explains how all prices are rising. “We are starving now,” he says.

For the full article, click here.


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