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Study: Egyptians Less Satisfied, More Hopeful

Protesters conduct Friday Prayers in Tahrir square in Cairo (file photo)

Protesters conduct Friday Prayers in Tahrir square in Cairo (file photo)

A new survey finds that Egyptians are less satisfied with their lives than they have been in recent years, but they also have more hope for their futures than they did during the days of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's government.

There is no question that it has been a tumultuous year in Egypt.

In January, Egyptians took to the streets to protest against the government, corruption and human rights abuses.

In February, President Mubarak stepped down, ending his nearly 30 years in office.

And in late March and early April, Egyptians were less satisfied with their standard of living than they had been in years.

That is a finding in a new report from the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, based on face-to-face interviews with about 1,000 Egyptian adults. In the wake of the popular uprising, Egyptians reported that they felt their communities had become less safe, and they said it was hard to find jobs, healthcare and housing.

Yet, despite this decline in their perceived standard of living, fewer Egyptians said they want to emigrate.

Mohamed Younis, a senior analyst for the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, says researchers found Egyptians had a renewed sense of optimism about their futures and political prospects.

"We find that people are actually much more positive than they used to be. They envision for the most part a representative government where religious principles guide the democratic process, but where clerics play a limited advisory role in legislation," Younis said.

The report, unveiled Tuesday in Washington, also showed only a few Egyptians viewed countries such as the Islamic Republic of Iran as a political model.

"So it's one percent for [recreating their country in the image of] Iran, about five to six percent for [recreating their country in the image of ] Turkey, but over 10 percent for [recreating their country in the image of] the United States. I think that when you look at that whole set of data, what is very clear is that Egyptians are not really looking to imitate anybody. They want their own Egypt. They want a new model that fits their history, that fits their demographic makeup and fits their economic story," Younis said.

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center is not alone in recommending that Egyptian leaders ensure that the country's upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections are free, fair and secure.

Younis says transparent elections will do more than simply restore a sense of law and order on Egypt's streets. "It will quell the growing sense that the revolution's accomplishments are taking too long to come to fruition," Younis said.

In related news Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said Egypt's transition to a democracy that respects the rule of law is at risk unless the military transition government immediately carries out human rights reforms.

The rights' group said this includes lifting the state of emergency, ensuring that security officials involved in serious abuses are prosecuted and repealing laws that restrict free expression.

Human Rights Watch added that Egyptian authorities have made progress in a number of areas, such as allowing the establishment of new political parties - a move that brings the Egyptian people one step closer to a representative government.