An Egyptian general told the Egyptian people to stop complaining about poverty because it is “rude,” urging them to “sacrifice” for the country’s future and prosperity by going hungry, local media reported Monday just days after thousands took to the streets protesting cuts to bread subsidies.
"’We want a kilo of oil, the oil is too expensive, no sugar,” General Mohamed Mansour said in a video shared widely on social media, mocking those who complain about the country’s food crisis. ”That's just rude guys. There's no other way to describe it."
He went on to tell people in the country to “pay hunger, pay lack of dinner … or Egypt would not exist. It would not,” he was heard saying in the video. More than 27 percent of Egypt’s 82 million people live under the poverty line — over 22 million — according to estimates by Egyptian authorities in 2016.
Last week hundreds of Egyptians protested around the country, blocking roads and surrounding government offices, after a change to the way bread rations are managed raised fears that the government was cutting food subsidies through the back door.
Bread subsidies are a major issue in Egypt, where over 70 million receive state rations. The country has a system in which each family receives a plastic card to buy five subsidized loaves per person per day. The government then pays bakeries a subsidy per loaf.
"We are suffering from high prices. We have nothing left to live on but bread and now the government wants to deprive us of it," Samia Darwish, a 50-year-old homemaker in Alexandria, told Reuters.
The latest protests and the ongoing economic hardships are putting pressure on President Abdel-Fattah Sisi, who came to power following a coup in 2013 orchestrated when he was the head of the military, against the first democratically-elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, after the latter was in power for less than a year.
Sissi ran for president in 2014 and won 92 percent of the vote, reverting the country back to the pre-uprising times of 2010 and autocratic military rule.
He has been accused of clamping down on dissent and opposition to his policies by banning political parties, cracking down on independent media, and throwing thousands of activists in prison.