Sunday, March 24, 2013

Morsi vs Morsi; Morsi vs Mubarak

Two years on and the struggle continues. While there are regular episodes of conflict, they appear more limited and localized. However, the absence of continuing public protests characteristic of the first year or more of the revolution does not mean that the struggles of Egyptians are any less serious. Far from it. Few seem to be anywhere near satisfied with the current state of the government, economy, or society. Indeed, most that we've been able to talk to are deeply concerned. Most seem to agree that the time for street protests has passed - at least for now - but are unclear as to how to proceed or how to read where Egypt is headed.

While all youth we've spoken with acknowledge the legitimacy of the Morsi government and that it deserves to play itself out, there is no love lost on him. (We've spoken to no youth from the Muslim Brotherhood). The most favorable view reflects the simple principle of patience: "give him time; it's a complex country; no leader could solve these problems quickly." Many are less willing to forgive his missteps, seeing too much evidence of questionable decisions, inexplicable reversals, unclear concern for the whole of Egypt, or plain ineptness. In other words, he's his own worst enemy.

A surprise this trip was how frequently support for Mubarak was expressed. It is working class individuals, both youth and older, who seem to be longing for him. Some probing reveals that this is largely figurative - everyone is aware that he is old and infirm. It's a sentimental but urgent longing for more stability and for "better" economic times.

The short story: while activists are deeply disappointed with the progress of the revolution, the street is decimated with a poverty that paralyzes and frightens them. Anything would be better.