Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Post-Revolution Life of Egyptian Police

View on my walk home from work
Now that Libya has taken the spotlight, very little is reported on Egypt and its post-revolution days (that is unless you live here and/or read local media out of Egypt).

While Rome wasn’t built in a day (can someone please explain that to the majority of Egyptians?), I suspect that it won’t be too long before that same majority is requesting a return of the Mubarak regime.

There is no order. Crime rate is up although figures will undoubtedly be skewed since crimes before the end of the Mubarak era were rarely reported. I’ve always heard that Egypt was relatively safe, but if you traveled to lower-income areas, ie where Sudanese refugees reside, you would hear plenty of stories about attacks, theft and other dubious actions.

I recently met a Cairo police officer and inquired as to what his job entailed pre and post-revolution. He told me that previously, he was on constant patrol catching thieves and other small-time criminals. He said that now, they do nothing as no one respects or listens to them. If he has the 9 pm to 9 am shift, he drives around on the Autostradt and that’s about it.

On April 2, the Cairo soccer team, Zamalak, had hundreds of its fans storm the field attacking Tunisia’s Club Africain players and an Algerian referee. In an article in Afrique en ligne, it was reported that nearly 150 arrests were made by Egyptian police who were “blamed by many critics for not doing their job at the stadium.” Naturally the blame would go elsewhere instead of attributing the lawlessness to the real perpetrators. I heard from others in the area that the police tried to stop the rampage, but were unable to do anything and had to wait until the army came to restore order.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, now the ruling body, has launched an investigation into the acts at the Cairo stadium during the African Football Champions League.

Near my apartment around 7 am (daylight mind you and in a high traffic area), a female foreign teacher was held up at knife point with the culprit demanding her purse. She began screaming and he ran away. Another friend of mine had two men on a bike pass by her holding a knife and trying to unsuccessfully grab her bag. A cab driver tried to hold up a woman in New Maadi. And here’s another amazing story that happened on Talat Harb Street, near to Tahrir Square (Liberation Square for all of you overseas):

Without the police, the venders have begun setting up shop in the middle of the streets. My friend hit one of the vender’s setups with his car while the vender demanded payment for the destruction (debatable). He wanted LE 400 (around $68), and my friend trying to calm the situation said that he would help. The situation escalated and other men joined the fight attacking my friend’s pockets. It is important to note that none of them beat my friend, but they were carrying weapons and suspected of being on drugs at the time.

Long story shorter, so to speak, the thieves got an iPod and Nokia phone, but that isn’t all. Some of the men went inside the friend’s car and began taking anything that he thought was worth money. In order for the friend to get his belongings back, the vender demanded the rest of the LE 400 (the friend had only given LE 200 at the time and refused to give the rest until his items were returned). I simply can’t be bothered to get into the rest of the story, but the friend did file a report with the police and we all see that getting somewhere.

The point is, you rarely heard of these instances prior to January 25 and now it’s hard to find someone that hasn’t been assaulted. And for the Tahrir friend, he’s more concerned that if he keeps pressing, the culprits will do more harmful things. This attitude is when things begin to spiral out of control, enabling common criminals to get away with their actions as they feed off of fear.

As the officer told me, “There’s no country in the world that can survive without police.”

I asked him why he joined the police considering that they’ve never garnered much respect (although they did instill fear into the people which was enough). He said that while he could’ve joined the army, the problem would have been that he would be in the middle of nowhere and only able to communicate with other army personnel. He wanted to help people and be in the middle of the action, so he decided that joining law enforcement as a police officer was the best way to do this. He feels that things will eventually calm down, but for now...

Place of the Week:
Nefertari Body Care
There are various locations, but the one I frequent is the side street by the CIB/old Cinnabon building, next to a pharmacy on Road 9 in Maadi.

This venue has become one of my favorite things about Egypt. Nefertari was the favorite wife of Ramses II and means “the most beautiful of them all.” First of all, the products are 100% PROUDLY made in Egypt. The company, with a factory in Dokki, boasts of jobs that contribute to “community development through offering opportunities and generating income for several poor Egyptian families both inside Cairo and outside reaching the Western Desert of Egypt in the oasis of Farafra (with a large emphasis on women) to help them sustain an acceptable level of living and [education for] their children.”

The most amazing thing is how each product is packaged. If you purchased these items in the US, they would go for $45+. For instance, the milk bath which I use as a facial scrub comes in a clay jar and while I can’t remember the price, I know that it’s under $10.

The company’s vision, as stated on its site, is to offer a wide range of 100% natural Egyptian body care products with an Egyptian accent all 100% handmade by Egyptian hands and with Egyptian materials.

When my mother and sister came for a visit, I bought a gift set to have waiting on their beds for their arrival. My mother absolutely loved the lavender set and I also highly recommend it. If you were to walk in my bathroom, you would see various Nefertari products. Some of my favorite things:

Bath fizz balls – I prefer lavender but have recently gotten into the rose pedal ball as well. The aroma is to die for and it releases this oil that is perfect for when you shave your legs, enabling you to skip the lotion process afterwards. You can use one ball per bath, but sometimes I take shorter baths and instead use one ball for two baths.

Hair and skin oil – if you get your hair done here, you will notice that the chemicals used severely dries out your scalp and hair. This oil is perfect for just that occasion. You let it sit in hot water for a little to break up some of the contents and then place in your hair. I usually do it at night and then wash my hair again the following morning.

Face and body cream – it starts with an F like Frangelico or something. It’s yellow and I promise some of the best lotion you’ve ever had. Leaves your skin glowing and soft for hours.
The rose pedals released from the bath fizz ball - LOVE IT!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Heading back to Maadi tomorrow and looking forward to getting home after 2 months away. I cant find much info on the state of crime and such things recently but most of my friends are reporting relative safety.... Sounds like it may be up and down though!