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Egyptians tolerating cuts in subsidies — for now

The government mobilized its police forces to prevent any massive protest against its reduction in fuel subsidies; road infrastructure improvements also helped soften the blow of increased prices for consumers.
People wait to buy 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 BUSINESS ENERGY TRANS
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CAIRO — On one smoldering July weekend that also happened to be during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Egypt's regime, led by military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced that it was reducing fuel subsidies. The decision sent waves of anger through the poor — and poorer classes of the country — still suffering through the political and security turmoil the nation has been undergoing since the January 2011 revolution.

When the subsidies were reduced, middle-class workers screamed, taxi drivers frowned and memories of Anwar Sadat's 1977 bread riots were discussed at tea shops that already had raised the prices of their top selling products: tea, coffee and water-pipe tobacco. But the next day, lines at every gas station across the country seemed as normal as ever, except for some loud drivers who also slipped back into fearful silence after noticing that their screams — unlike those made during the 3½ years before Sisi's presidency — had ceased to echo in the ears of others.

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