The nation has undergone the motions of reform. There have been four governments and a new constitution ushered in through five elections. Egypt now has its first democratically elected president and a constitution that seeks broad protections to both Egyptians and the nations environment. And yet, five months after Morsis election, much of the government institutions, the ones that led to Mubaraks fall, remain the same. There have been no major police reforms, a call that initially spurred the protests of Jan. 25, 2011. There have been no economic or infrastructure reforms. This year alone, there have been at least six major building collapses or train collisions, killing hundreds.
Around the nation Friday, hundreds of thousands chanted in the streets, clashing with police as they called for Morsi to step down or to do more. In every home in Cairo were the sounds of protests, either within earshot or over television screens that projected chaotic scenes around the country. State television reported that six protesters had died in Suez. By 9:30 p.m., 265 had been injured, the Health Ministry said; by 11 p.m., that figure jumped to 369.
Protesters cut access to the capitals main bridges and subway stations, trapping commuters. Some threatened to overrun the governments media building, which historically has marked the end of a government. Government tanks lined the highways, and police again charged at protesters.
Bread, freedom, social justice, the demonstrators yelled, the defining chant of the protests two years ago.
Inside homes in places like Faiyum there was a quiet furor over the ongoing protests, which many attribute to the weakened economy. Tourism, which was once tied to as many as a third of all jobs here, will not return without stability, they argue. The economy cannot recover without security.
Earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood announced a national initiative to provide goods and services that the government has not three months before a parliamentary election it hopes to dominate. Just as it did before the presidential election and the constitutional referendum, members turned the party headquarters into a free clinic run by doctors who support the Brotherhood. The 84-year-old Brotherhood, Egypts best organized and most powerful group, bought food and clothing and sold them at discounted prices. Members slaughtered sheep in front of residents so they could see they were getting fresh, discounted meat.
According to government statistics, unemployment in Egypt is at 12.4 percent though the actual figure is likely far higher. The Egyptian pound has fallen by 12 percent since Mubarak left office, but the price of everyday goods has climbed far more than that. Tomatoes, the telltale measure of food prices here, cost roughly 30 percent more. In a nation where the average Egyptian puts 46 percent of his income toward food, such rises have made things like fruit and cooking gas a luxury.
In Faiyum, government and non-governmental organizations, known as NGOs, used to pick up the trash. Residents could buy cooking gas for 5 pounds without Brotherhood help instead of 20 pounds on the black market. During Mubarak, there was no such thing as gasoline lines because the government could afford to subsidize fuel.
Outside one clinic, where boxes of medicines were stacked inside, Ahmed Yassin, a pediatrician and longtime member of the Brotherhood, wrote prescriptions to those visiting him on a pad with the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party logo. Patients carried his prescriptions outside, where another member gave them the medicines they needed for free.
It is perhaps because of such efforts by the Brotherhood that Faiyum endorsed the Muslim Brotherhood-approved constitution by 89 percent during last months referendum, a far bigger margin than the 60 percent national average. It also overwhelmingly voted for Morsi.
Ramadan was among them, but she vowed to stay home for Aprils parliamentary elections, despite all the services Morsis party showered around her.
We dont want anything anymore. Yes, they are picking up our trash, but we want to eat, she said as she reached to pay for her tomatoes. I will not vote.
Amina Ismail contributed from Cairo.
VIDEO: Violence flares on anniversary of Egypt uprising