It only takes a walk through the streets of Luxor to realize the predicament of the Egyptian people. Many houses lack electricity, walls and even roofs. Many Egyptian men linger near tourist locations, selling souvenirs. They swarm tourists and plead for some business. They tell stories of hungry children and long periods of time without work. Their state of desperation ultimately forces them to sell their products at devastatingly low prices. In the eyes of tourists, street vendors swindle foreigners by selling products for many times their fair market price. But these sellers do so out of necessity.
Even the landscape of Egypt displays the plight of its people. The channels of the Nile, Egypt’s once-sacred river, have become a dumping ground for piles of garbage. Many towns lack paved roads and most of the existing paths lack much-needed maintenance. A drive from Cairo to Alexandria reveals a desert landscape dotted with abandoned construction projects. Unfinished buildings, roads and even bridges reflect a state of decay. Some buildings are barely standing, with collapsed walls and floors. While driving through the highways in Cairo, you notice that many buildings have been painted only on the side that faces the highway. Other buildings have a plethora of colors as individual residents make the effort to paint the outside of their apartments. Many of these buildings exude an air of nostalgia for the times when they were built, presumably a period of greater stability and wealth.
Two years after the 2011 Tahrir Square protests, the hopes and dreams of revolution have been displaced by stark reality. Dismantling Mubarak’s regime did not lead to more stability. Rather, it worsened the living conditions for a great number of Egyptians. Now, people have to wait up to a day simply to fill their vehicles with fuel. Although Egypt has moved in the right direction, it has lost a sense of order, worsened by politicians who seek to enrich themselves by deceiving their electorate.
The general population supports the Muslim Brotherhood — a party that uses the term “secular” in order to brand any opposition to politicians as “alien” to Islam and deceptive to voters. Many uneducated citizens ultimately find themselves voting for the Muslim Brotherhood as an affirmation of their faith. A majority of the college-educated population sees this issue as the primary obstacle towards improving the situation in Egypt. Unfortunately, this new democracy causes continued corruption, protests and frustration from all sides of the political spectrum.
Beyond the field of politics, Egyptians face a major decline in tourism. Many cities that rely heavily on tourism, such as Edfou and Luxor, currently face dire economic straits. In order to move forward, Egypt will need to focus on restructuring its economy and significantly reforming its political system. Unfortunately for the Egyptian people, the situation will worsen before it begins to improve.
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