News / Middle East

    Edgy Egyptians Stock Up on Essentials Ahead of June 30 Protests

    A family loads groceries into the trunk of their car ahead of demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Cairo, June 25, 2013.
    A family loads groceries into the trunk of their car ahead of demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Cairo, June 25, 2013.
    Reuters
    Egyptians are stocking up on food, fuel and cash ahead of protests this weekend against President Mohamed Morsi that many fear will be the most violent and disruptive this year.
     
    Morsi's liberal, leftist and secular-minded opponents have called on Egyptians to take to the streets on June 30 - the one-year anniversary of the Islamist president's first day in office - to demand his resignation.
     
    Street cafes, minibusses, banks, offices and grocery stores across the Arab world's most populous country have been abuzz for weeks with talk of the “June 30'' protests.
     
    Many people have started hoarding essentials, fearing a repeat of the disruption that hit business and transport during the 18-day revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
     
    Mona Kamel, a 52-year-old office secretary, said she had bought a week's worth of rice, pasta, sugar, milk, bread and cheese to see her family through any disruption.
     
    “My neighbors, friends and colleagues are all doing this just in case,'' she said. “Maybe there will be curfews, maybe bakeries won't run their ovens. It's better to be prepared.''
     
    Long lines have formed at gas stations across Cairo over the last few days, blocking thoroughfares and worsening already snarling gridlock. Some motorists said they were trying to fuel up ahead of the demonstrations.
     
    The oil ministry on Tuesday dismissed “rumors'' of fuel shortages and urged citizens not to be “misled'' into hoarding gas, the state news agency MENA reported.
     
    But Mona Waleed, a 39-year-old local oil firm employee, said she sat in line at a petrol station for four hours on Tuesday waiting to fill up.
     
    Waleed, who said she also made two trips to the bank this week to make sure her family of four had enough cash to last a month, said the 2011 uprising had taken many people off guard.
     
    “This time, people are afraid and they are getting ready,'' she said.
     
    Fear of violence 

    Anti-Morsi activists have been boosted by the momentum of a months-old signature drive to withdraw confidence from the president, known as “Tamarod'' or “Rebel." The campaign claims to have gathered 15 million signatures, more than the number of votes Morsi received in last year's presidential election.
     
    A coalition of Morsi's Islamist supporters - including his Muslim Brotherhood - has called for counter-demonstrations to assert his legitimacy, raising the chances of violent confrontations between the two sides. The tension prompted Egypt's army to warn it may step in to impose order.
     
    Organizers have called for marches from downtown Cairo and surrounding neighborhoods to the presidential palace in the suburb of Heliopolis, where rival factions of Morsi's supporters and opponents have clashed in the past.
     
    In the suburb of Nasr City, Rijan Samier, 41, said she started to worry about the potential for confrontation when thousands of Islamists flooded her neighborhood on Friday to rally outside a local mosque in support of the president.
     
    Some of her neighbors set up checkpoints to prevent the protesters from reaching the mosque through their street, she said, although the day passed without violence.
     
    “Thank God, nothing happened this time,'' Samier said.
     
    Supply side panic

    The nervousness is also affecting suppliers.
     
    In a working class district near Cairo's Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of Egypt's 2011 uprising, Youssef Sabet said he was afraid his small grocery store would be broken into if the protests turned violent.

    “Whenever any problems on the street happen, they start here,'' Sabet, 56, said. “I am running down my supplies. I've stopped bringing in new goods.''
     
    Sabet and other shopkeepers downtown said they would close their stores on Sunday - the first day of Egypt's working week - either to join the rallies or to protect their property.
     
    The United States embassy said it would also close on Sunday and urged Americans to ensure they had enough supplies to make it through “an extended period'' at home.
     
    Workers at the Semiramis Intercontinental have just finished putting up a tall black steel gated fence around the five-star hotel, which overlooks Tahrir and the Nile River.
     
    Looters broke into the hotel in January after protests marking the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising, trashing the lobby and shops while riot police stood by.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.