The bakers' concerns are by no means unique in Egypt this week. For decades, the state has subsidised the cost of food and fuel – essential in a country where around one in four live below the poverty line. But a severe economic crisis has forced the Islamist-led government to not only cut subsidies but also to introduce rationing. On Tuesday, ministers announced plans to introduce a smart-card system that limits each citizen to three small loaves a day.
The card scheme will be trialled in two cities, but Egyptian authorities are unlikely to be able to roll it out nationwide in the near future. In a country where bread is for millions the only significant source of sustenance, there are fears that would trigger a so-called revolution of the hungry and turn the pockets of unrest that Egypt has experienced over the past six weeks into something more widespread.
Patrick Kingsley / The Guardian