CAIRO – Egypt’s capital prides itself on being a city that never sleeps, with crowds filling cafes and shops open into till the small hours. So, the government is facing a backlash from businesses and the public as it vows to impose new nationwide rules closing stores and restaurants early.
Officials said the step is necessary to conserve electricity in a nation buckling under economic crisis and fuel shortages. But the decision has a strong undercurrent of social control: A desire by secular conservatives and Islamists alike to tame a population they see as too unruly, especially in a post-revolution atmosphere of strikes, protests and relentless demands on a beleaguered government.
Simply put, officials said, Egyptians should stop thinking they can do whatever they want, should go to sleep early and work in the morning.