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Egypt’s poor bear the brunt of Sisi’s austerity plan

A reduction in state subsidies has caused fuel, bread and other prices to rise dramatically in Egypt, stoking anger from consumers, taxi drivers and shop owners.
A microbus waits with other vehicles for fuel at a petrol station in Cairo July 6, 2014. Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb has sought to justify politically sensitive subsidy cuts on fuel and natural gas which took effect on Saturday, saying they were a necessary part of fixing an economy hammered by three years of turmoil. Egypt had overnight on Friday slashed its subsidies for car fuel and natural gas, increasing their prices by more than 70 percent. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh  (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS

CAIRO — On Jan. 17, 1977, Egypt's then-Deputy Finance Minister Abdemonem al-Qaisony stood in front of the parliament to declare a number of economic policy changes. The changes were basically increasing the prices of fuel, bread and 25 other consumer goods. Those decisions were ordered by President Anwar Sadat. Back then, Sadat (who was to be assassinated four years later) was celebrated as the man who had defeated Israel and had brought Israelis to peace talks; he also believed he was invincible.

Egypt literally went ablaze in the two days following the irrational decisions of the Sadat regime. Sadat's presidential rest houses were the first to go. The luxurious mansions scattered in almost every governorate across the country were ransacked by hundreds of thousands of infuriated people who barely made a living before the proposed austerity measures. Police stations, government offices and state-owned businesses were attacked in every city. The world dubbed it "the bread riots," while Sadat mocked it as the "thieves' uprising."

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