* Many Egyptians want better living conditions
* Government says time is needed to meet demands
By Sami Aboudi
CAIRO, July 15 Holding a portrait of a young
man, Hamed Fikri's eyes welled with tears as he listened to a
speaker in Cairo's Tahrir Square demand justice for those killed
in the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February.
"I came here to get some solace," said the 58-year-old
Fikri, a local government employee whose 34-year-old son, Ahmed,
was shot dead by police on the first day of the uprising on Jan.
25 while returning home from work.
His son left behind two young daughters, whom Fikri must now
find a way to support.
"We have filed documents (for compensation), and they have
yet to give us a reply," he said on Friday.
While demands for political change are the main force
driving thousands of Egyptians to Tahrir Square, the quest for
better living better conditions, including jobs and housing,
also weighs on people's minds.
"The people are crushed. They have suffered injustice under
Mubarak for 30 years, and the uprising has not yet brought
people justice," said Zakariya Eid, 55, a retired army officer.
"There are people who earn as little (a month) as 200
Egyptian pounds ($33)," he added, only to be interrupted by
another person who said he was actually making 120 pounds.
The interim government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf says
it recognises all the grievances of the Egyptian people but
insists it needs time to fix things.
But many Egyptians say they cannot wait.
Ahmed Abdel-Fattah Abdel-Tawab, 45, travelled 150 km (93
miles) from his hometown, Al Fashen, in central Egypt, to Cairo
to join demonstrators demanding "real change."
"We have seen no benefits from the revolution," Abdel-Tawab
said. "The military council has done nothing to show they are
serious about improving our lives," he said, pulling out two
government letters, one from before Mubarak was forced to step
down on Feb. 11 and one after his departure.
"They sent me an employment letter, and it turned out to be
a farce, like the one I received before under Mubarak," he said.
"Nothing has changed. Things are the same as they were under
Mubarak," he added.
Mostafa Mansour Mahmoud, a 33-year-old day labourer who had
been camping for more than a month outside the state television
station on the Nile, said he joined the protesters at Tahrir
Square to press the government for housing for those in need.
He said his family, like thousands of poor Egyptians, had
been renting houses under a new law that gave landlords the
right to evict tenants when contracts expired.
"The landlord did throw me and my family out. We staged a
sit-in outside Sharaf's office, who arranged a temporary
accommodation for us at a camp while authorities looked into our
application for public housing," he said.
He said that social workers who had studied his case,
decided he was not eligible for public housing because they
found his wife and daughter staying at his parents' two-bed flat
"I had signed a pledge saying that I will go to jail if I
was found to be lying. That flat belongs to my father, and now
we are crowded into two small rooms."
"All I want is four walls and a roof for me and my family,"
(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Editing by Peter