Cairo — Muhammad has had it with the Muslim Brotherhood.
From the moment we meet, it takes the 30-something Egyptian three minutes, tops, before he expresses his crashing disappointment with his government.
“On June 30, you will see another revolution,” he predicts, as we approach the Egyptian Museum. “Millions of Egyptians will fill Tahrir Square and other squares around the country. We want the Muslim Brothers out!”
As we admire sarcophagi, masks, and mummies in this legendary palace of antiquities, Muhammad barely can contain his frustration with current events.
“The Muslim Brothers,” as he and others here call them, “have craved power for 85 years. Now they have it, and they cannot run anything. We were happy to be rid of Mubarak, but right now, we would take him back.” Egyptians rallied for 18 days in early 2011 until their autocratic president stood down. Now 85, Hosni Mubarak is on trial for corruption and complicity in killing protesters during the uprising.
Muhammad is in the tourism industry. (Like others in this article, his identity is obscured for his protection.) “I used to work four days a week,” Muhammad laments. “Now, I work four days a month.”
Thanks to President Mohamed Morsi’s economic mismanagement, Egyptians have seen unemployment rise from 8.9 percent when Mubarak got booted to 13.2 percent today. Annual GDP growth, which was 5 percent in 2010, slowed to 3.3 percent in 2012 (although it was just 2.2 percent last quarter), according to TradingEconomics.com. Foreign-exchange reserves have plunged from $36 billion in December 2010 to $16 billion last month. No surprise, the Egyptian pound, which was 5.5 to the U.S. dollar when Mubarak resigned, now is 7.0. While this exchange rate dazzles visiting Americans, Egyptians wilt beneath this 27 percent loss in buying power.
The Muslim Brothers’ economic agenda seems to involve printing money; borrowing from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar; and awaiting a new $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Egyptians also are coping with energy shortages. These include rolling blackouts and gasoline lines that Deya Abaza describes in Ahram Online as “a recurring feature of Egypt’s post-revolutionary landscape.”
“My best year was 2010,” Muhammad says. “I was saving money to buy a house. Now, I have lost one third of my savings. My dreams have been crushed.”
One educated Anglophone Egyptian considered her prospects so grim that she recently used Craigslist to seek someone to marry her and whisk her overseas.
“Very big. Very big,” one cabbie predicts about June 30 as we fight rush-hour traffic. He continues in what one observer calls Earth’s lingua franca: Broken English. “Morsi out! Mubarak no good. Morsi no good. Same same.”
The U.S. embassy will close that day, “in anticipation of demonstrations that may turn violent.”