Muslim Brotherhood Tries to Ration Bread, Bakers Protest

Just Eat It

During the last episode of As the Egypt Turns and Cairo General Hospital we learned that…

1. Egypt is out of money. It’s even out of other people’s money.

2. The Muslim Brotherhood is in a prolonged conflict with the Egyptian police, soccer fans and now bakers.

3. The Egyptian revolution largely happened because of a spike in the price of bread.

And now on this episode, the Brotherhood is trying to ration subsidized bread leading to angry protests by bakers. While a protest by bakers wouldn’t be taken too seriously in the United States, in Egypt and some parts of the Middle East bakers are very important because the food supply hinges on bakeries.

Egypt’s bread and fuel are subsidized by the government to control the impact of food and fuel prices. If the price goes up too much, riots begin and governments get overthrown.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s solution to the fuel crisis and bread crisis was to find ways of providing subsidized products only to the poor. This sounds good on paper, but in practice worked out really badly with fuel leading to shortages, lines and protests.

Now the Brotherhood is trying the same thing with bread limiting access only to a set amount of cheap loaves for smart card holders. And the new policy is already off to a great start.

Egypt plans to start rationing subsidised bread, a minister said on Tuesday, taking a risky step to curb the budget deficit by restricting supplies of cheap loaves vital to the poor.

The government will start rationing “after two months,” Supply Minister Bassem Ouda said. Trials of a rationing system using electronic smart cards will begin in the restive Suez Canal city of Port Said and its suburb Port Fouad.

The cheapest subsidised loaves are sold for 5 piastres, or less than 1 U.S. cent.

Tempers are already rising over higher prices. Bakers are threatening to strike, accusing the government of owing them 400 million pounds ($59 million) in overdue subsidies. Ouda said on Monday that the bakers would face legal action unless they called off the strike action.

Abdullah Ghorab, head of the bakers’ association which represents 25,000 private bakeries across the country, said on Tuesday that imminent strike action had been postponed as they seek a meeting with the prime minister in two days’ time.

Around 200 bakers protested outside the Supply Ministry on Tuesday, saying that the government wanted them to sign a contract that would set the price for subsidized flour at a level they found too high.

“If they don’t change this, we will close our shops,” bakery owner Mohamad Sharaf said. “We will not be able to work because we will not pay out of our own pockets.”

The bakers, who had travelled to Cairo from around Egypt, also complained of corruption in the bread sector. Rising fuel and ingredient costs have hit their businesses hard, bakers say.

The government spends over $5.5 billion a year on food subsidies, which also cover items such as rice, oil and sugar. A slide in the Egyptian pound’s value is pushing up the bill, as much food has to be bought for dollars on international markets.

An extended baker’s strike would probably put the kibosh on the Muslim Brotherhood regime for good. But Qatar has run out of money to pump into the Brotherhood. It’s too busy using that money to subsidize the Muslim Brotherhood revolution in Syria. And the IMF isn’t coming through with the cash until reforms take place.

And oh yes, they picked the perfect place for a trial run of the bread rationing system.

The cities earmarked for the bread rationing trial, Port Said and Port Fouad at the Mediterranean mouth of the Suez Canal, have seen violent protests in recent weeks over death sentences handed down on local soccer fans for their role in a stadium riot last year when more than 70 people died.

This should go swimmingly.

  • Mary Sue

    Oh yeah, this'll turn out well.[/sarcasm] (not so well for the Muslim Brotherhood though!)

  • Edward Cline

    The Muslim Brotherhood probably isn't too worried about its bread shortages. Doubtless Obama, in addition to sending Egypt planes and tanks with which to control the natives, will follow up with an emergency shipment of Wonder Bread with which to placate the bakers and populace, thus causing a shortage of bread on American grocery shelves.

    • AnOrdinaryMan

      White bread is garbage; as far as nutritional value, its like eating paste. Therefore, I hope the Egyptian military get all the white bread they can eat. In any war they have with Israel, they will fail.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      It's what the USSR used to do

    • Flowerknife_us

      I thought Wonder Bread was not made anymore?

    • Guest

      Yes, Edward probably true….considering the MO of Brotherhood by controlling Egypt's 'state resources' and giving them away to Hamas in Gaza…..proves the real political interests, and it is not Egyptians.. Egypt is representative of failed policy of the U.N. for universal human rights…..wherein, it is estimated that the majority is for secular gov. and elections were rigged by Brotherhood. There are no world leaders speaking out against this type of radicalism and supporting the moderate, secular faction of society, gov. and law.

  • RUI

    It's Abbas' turn to say "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"

  • AdinaK

    There is no doubt that starvation is on the table ,for the masses in Egypt, no pun intended. But it matters not a whit, now that the Brotherhood is in power. Whereas they gained much of their support through "social service" avenues, it was nothing more than leverage to gain control.
    So, in the same manner in which communist nations "ration" food, so too will the Brotherhood, as totalitarian rulers, always behave likewise. This is one way in which the red/green alliance dovetails –

    The thing is, leftists/reds understand what Islamists/greens have to do, to exert their hegemony, hence, they lock arms.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel

    • Flowerknife_us

      tf the fertile Nile grew more Wheat instead of Hate-their diet might improve.