Middle East

Self promotion

Here’s an article I wrote for the Dubai-based magazine TRENDS. Its about the latest round of bread riots in Egypt.

Here we go again

Just as the weather was getting hot, it happened again. After a 10-week lull, on June 4, another round of bread riots broke out in Egypt. Not in Cairo this time, but in the town of El-Burullus on the Mediterranean coast. The local governor provided the spark when he decided to distribute subsidized flour through bakeries rather than selling it directly to citizens of the small fishing community. Angered by the move and squeezed by rising food prices, an estimated 8,000 protesters took to the streets, blockading an important highway with rubble and burning tires.

Protesters also took to the net. As is now the norm, independent Egyptian media and opposition bloggers teamed up to broadcast the bloody details of the state crackdown that followed. Twitter feeds, blog posts and YouTube videos all chronicled the affair in a level of detail unheard of even a few years ago. The independent daily Almasry Alyoum reported that security forces shot tear gas canisters into shops and homes, detained pregnant women, beat children, and fired on crowds with rubber bullets.

The same day his men were cracking heads in Burullus, Hosni Mubarak was in Rome addressing a UN conference on food security. The Egyptian president’s speech was particularly bland, even by his own high standards; he urged blaming no one in particular and proposed additional conferences to discuss the situation. While Mubarak’s speech was getting top billing in state media, news of the riots began to break, providing a reality check on government protestations that the crisis was under control.

For the rest, go to the TRENDS website.