(Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Most Egyptians say they were happier under the dictatorial President Hosni Mubarak than during the presidency of Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, according to a Gallup survey released Friday. The pessimism, coupled with the ongoing violence, points to "a dark and concerning path for the country."
Asked if they thought Egypt was better off or worse off than it was before Mubarak's resignation in 2011, 80 percent of Egyptians said it was worse off, according to the results of Gallup's face-to-face interviews with 1,149 Egyptians aged 15 and older between June 12 and 19 in that country.
Asked to guess if Egypt would be better off or worse off five years from now, half of the respondents said their country was likely to be worse off. Thirty-two percent said it would be better off.
"The euphoria that Egyptians exhibited across public squares after Mubarak resigned has long passed. More than two years later and prior to the removal of Mubarak's elected successor (Morsi), Egyptians were noticeably pessimistic about what the resignation has gained their country," Gallup says. "The latest levels of pessimism, coupled with recent bouts of violence related to the forceful breakup of pro-Morsi protests this week, and the ensuing violence since then, point to a dark and concerning path for the country."
While growing unemployment was one of the key factors that triggered the revolution in Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African countries, most Egyptians said job opportunities had not improved since Mubarak's fall.
About 70 percent of Egyptians believe employment opportunities in the private sector have declined, and 68 percent think the same about the private sector.
Major foreign companies are pulling out of Egypt amid the violent clashes between Morsi supporters and government security, and therefore private jobs are likely even more limited in the near term and maybe longer if the instability continues, Gallup notes.
More than 40 percent of Egyptians believe it will take more than five years for the job situation to improve, and more than 10 percent see no end in sight.
However, Egyptians are somewhat optimistic about media freedom. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said the freedom of the media had improved since Mubarak's resignation. Gallup notes that the optimism predates the closure of several Islamist-leaning news and entertainment channels pursuant to the July 3 decree that ended Morsi's term in office.
However, confidence in the freedom of press is likely to remain. "Even under Morsi's leadership, hundreds of criminal defamation cases were brought against journalists for 'insulting the presidency.'"
Meanwhile, clashes between Morsi's Islamist supporters and the Egyptian military continue.
The Brotherhood, an Islamist group that operated underground until the fall of Mubarak, claims the country's military has reversed the revolution and demands reinstatement of Morsi, who was elected president in June 2012.
On Wednesday, military raids on pro-Morsi protest camps killed about 580 people and wounded 4,000 others.
Authorities on Friday arrested 821 Islamist protesters across the country for rioting and violence, according to Nile TV. Authorities have reportedly seized seven hand grenades, five automatic weapons, pistols and 710 rounds.
U.S. President Barack Obama has cancelled long-planned U.S.-Egypt military exercises after the latest spate of violence, indicating a potential shift away from the long-standing strategic partnership between Cairo and Washington.
Egypt's Coptic Christians, who account for at least 10 percent of the total population of 82 million, faced numerous attacks after Mubarak's ouster as well as under Morsi's leadership. The Islamist-backed constitution Egyptian voters approved through a controversial referendum last year established Islamist supremacy and caused concerns over the lack of full religious freedom in the Sunni Muslim-majority country.