In Cairo Crisis, Unheard Voice From the Poor
A faded poster of Hosni Mubarak hangs on a wall in a crumbling neighborhood here, reminding residents of an empty pledge to find jobs for young people. Down the street, a campaign banner for his successor, Mohamed Morsi, hangs across the road, a reminder of more recent promises unkept.
In the neighborhood, called Boulaq, so long neglected that houses regularly collapse, there was little expectation that Mr. Mubarak would provide. But Mr. Morsi’s disregard has been much harder to take.
“We had high hopes in God, that things would improve,” Fathi Hussein said as he built a desk of dark wood for one of his clients, who are dwindling. “I elected a president to be good for the country. I did not elect him to impose his opinions on me.”
Away from the protests and violence that have marked the painful struggle over Egypt’s identity in the run-up to a referendum on Saturday on a constitution, residents of Boulaq have their own reasons to be consumed with the crisis. The chants of the protesters, for bread and freedom, resonate in Boulaq’s alleyways. In many of its industrial workshops, passed from struggling fathers to penniless sons, disappointment with the president, his Muslim Brotherhood supporters as well as the leaders of the opposition grows daily.
There is a sense in Boulaq that the raging arguments would be better resolved in places like this, where most Egyptians live, carrying the burdens of poverty with no help from an indifferent state, and where the revolution’s promise of dignity is long overdue.