This blog has detailed several accounts of attacks mostly post-revolution, and I also strive to ensure that each allegation has been reported and verified. I had never personally experienced an attack. That was until recently.
I went out with friends on August 9 to a private place in Maadi to listen to a band. After the group finished playing, we all decided to head out to some of the area’s lesser known establishments. Grouped in two SUVs carrying three men and two females including myself, we all get ready to load back up on end our night. As three individuals were getting into the first car, I saw an Egyptian 20-something male lurking around the vehicle. I say to my friend, “Are you watching this guy?”
Out of the entire group, I was the only one paying attention to the man. As I turned my back to get into the car, he attempted to take my bag. I saw something in his hand and thinking it was my wallet, I immediately ran after him. I began screaming at the top of my lungs repeating, “HARAMY” (thief). No less than 20 men came out of the woodworks, chasing after the culprit.
I know what you’re thinking: that’s awesome. It was what happened next that is disappointing.
After I turned the corner to see the men had caught the mugger, the group saw that a) I was foreign and b) the man was actually unsuccessful in getting my bag and/or contents. They let him go telling me, "Well, he didn't get anything, ma3lesh (whatever)."
The old Egypt would have beat him anyway, just for his attempted wrongdoing. And personally, I think he should be beat just for making me run since I HATE running. The new Egypt instead blamed me for being out so late and drinking during Ramadan. I asked them if that was an excuse and if the action was any less “haram” because of it. Then when one of my foreign friends caught up to the group, the men said to me, “Is this the person chasing you?” This after they had already caught and released the culprit and as though I’m going to run away from another foreigner…
But I try to look at all angles and I began thinking that perhaps the thief instead told the group that it wasn’t him. After all, he didn’t have any incriminating evidence in his possession. Despite how it turned out, I will still highlight how many men came to the rescue running after the mugger. And I think God no one was injured or anything stolen.
Some of my Egyptian friends said that I should be more careful and not be so quick to react. However, I think it’s one of those things that you realize some people would freeze in the moment and I realized that I am not a freezer. That doesn’t mean I’m naïve enough to think that I can fight three grown men on my own which brings me to another brief story of walking home and having three men park their car, get out and begin following another friend and me. Obviously that was not a situation that I chased back. Instead, I walked in shadows, hid behind cars, watched them the entire time and when a taxi pulled up, quickly flagged him down and jumped in.
So here are some quick pointers that you should always follow no matter the country:
- Be on your guard at all times, even if you are a female and have men by your side.
- If you drive, always keep your doors locked and windows up far enough so someone can’t just reach in. There have been several incidents where a woman’s purse was in the passenger seat and someone reached in and lifted it while driving.
- Carry a weapon, but if you’re going into a place that checks your bag, know that anything can be a weapon. Victoria’s Secret body spray can act like pepper spray or any cologne/perfume. A fork can be seen as just in your purse for your lunch, but you can use it to stab.
- Take trusted drivers at night and do not walk alone.
- If you attend Ace Club or any other expat place, be aware that the cabs parked outside are NOT affiliated with the club. Try not to take taxis that are parked directly outside of any place unless you know them as many times those are the exact ones that will do something whether it’s as small as a rigged meter or larger problems like attempted abduction.
When others heard of my story, they instantly began making excuses: “You shouldn’t have been out so late” and a wide variety of other justifications. Many attacks are happening during daylight hours as well and no, I don’t need your commentary on how much more dangerous other cities are – Egypt WAS safe and I’m not living in those other cities. It’s all of our duty to try and help others in similar situations. And it’s undisputable how much worse crime has gotten in this country after Mubarak. It is impossible to go from a 100% police state to no police without numerous problems. Welcome to the new Egypt.