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As shopkeepers feel pinch of stagnant economy, some want an end to protests.
Security and stability on the streets, said shopkeepers, is the only way foreigners will ever come back to Egypt and the Khan el-Khalili.
Although some police have returned to the market area, their plainclothes presence is less pronounced than in other parts of Cairo.
Following a week of harassment and arrests of local and foreign media, security forces in the Khan el-Khalili still seemed interested in preventing journalists from snooping around looted shops, demanding to know, “Where you work?”
That type of impunity is exactly why the uprising started, said Mohamed Said, a taxi driver parked on the busy street outside the entrance to bazaar.
“Twice now I’ve been forced to pay corrupt traffic police 100 Egyptian pounds (around $20) under a threat of paying a bigger, bogus fine,” Mohamed said. “And for what? As if I don’t have my own children to feed?”
Over 1 million foreign tourists fled Egypt during the uprising, costing the country about $1 billion, according to Egypt’s vice president.
Many merchants in the Khan el-Khalili worry that it will take months to reestablish an environment that makes foreigners feel comfortable enough to return.
All the storeowners are feeling the pinch, but not everyone is eager to race back to business as usual.
Hatem Said sells Egypt soccer jerseys and other touristy trinkets from a small shop in the heart of the market. Customers, he said, are non-existent.
Even still, the 28-year-old vendor said he has been haunted by images of the dead victims killed in Egypt’s unrest, now draped on large posters in Tahrir Square.
Seeing pictures of Egypt’s “martyrs,” he said, is reason enough for protesters to continue pressuring the regime from Tahrir.
“I know once they leave Tahrir that business in the Khan el-Khalili will start coming back,” Hatem said. “But protests are working — look at the concessions the government is giving them. Change in Egypt is finally happening.”