Monday, February 13, 2012

Letters from Egypt: A Crisis Emerging

Taken in 2008 when a cab fight just meant a lot of yelling, unlike today.
Egypt has been unstable for a year, but now the term crisis is starting to become applicable. And I’ve seen the shift myself. It feels like things are spiraling out of control.

Just yesterday I took a cab to a popular area within Maadi to my dentist. I noticed my cab’s meter was running a little fast. I said something to him about it in Arabic. Previously, when mentioning to a taxi that you notice the rigged meter (particularly saying it in Arabic), they instantly chuckle and say, “Okay, as you like.” Not this time. My cab driver refused to acknowledge that his meter was wrong and I told him that I knew exactly how much the fare was. We exchanged a few more words and then as I got out, I still paid him what the meter said as it wasn’t that much of a difference (more of the principle) and he grabbed my wrist.

In my 3.5 years of living here with all the numerous cabs I’ve taken, I have never had this happen. When he grabbed my wrist, I began hitting his car and screaming. He got out of his car and began yelling in my face and I continued as well. Men came running and tried to get him away from me and police finally came up and I was shuffled into the building. You didn’t have this occur so often previously (not with females and particularly not with foreign females) because police would instantly arrest the taxi driver. As mentioned in previous blogs, the police have been severely crippled and unable to enforce even basic law.

I was shaken, but more than anything, I’m upset that the Egypt I’ve known is completely diminishing. Forget the curfew implemented during the revolution. There isn’t a curfew now, but everyone wants to be home by 8 pm at the latest because of the escalating situation. A friend tried to break up a fight a couple of weeks ago between two men that just had a bump in – which is usual with Egyptians and their driving. Earlier, men would just shout at one another and get back in their cars and drive on their way (some instances a stick would be used to ding the car or break a window). This time, one man returned from his car with a gun. Thankfully he had the safety on and nor was it loaded, but this is just yet another example of the escalation from old Egypt to the new regime.

The accusation by the military of the US inciting the Port Said violence, being aligned with Israel, has created xenophobia toward foreigners. A picture was even taken with a sign translated to, “No to American/Israeli plan to divide.” Please read more on Egypt Unbound’s “Spreading Xenophobia in Egypt

But violence isn’t only being targeted at foreigners. On February 6, the body of Siemens executive Dr. Hany Louka was found mutilated and burned in a Cairo suburb, the 6th of October. Details surrounding his death are inconsistent with authorities reporting that an Egyptian pharmacist and Jordanian female have been taken into custody for the crime just moments after finding the body. However, the supposed culprits have no ties to the victim and would appear that authorities picked them at random to close the case. Police said it was a botched robbery, but Dr. Louka’s body was found at his car. A source told me that his iPad and iPod were still in the car. What kind of robber leaves a nice car and electronics behind?

Yesterday (February 12) UN freelance consultant Nermeen Gomaa Khalil was shot in the head while driving through a crowded Cairo neighborhood, Mohandaseen, in an attempted carjacking.

An attempted kidnapping took place with a young woman in front of Vodafone in Zah’raa Maadi last week.

Two children were kidnapped for ransom on their way to the German school a week and a half ago.

Men have been seen walking around with machine guns near the exit for the Autostrad in Zah’raa Maadi.

The US Embassy sent out a warning of more carjackings occurring near Carrefour in Maadi.

Everyone wanted a new Egypt. This is certainly a new Egypt. 

Read about the Aussie journalist now among the latest foreigners accused of being an "agent to incite people to strike": Egypt Likely to Deport Australian Journalist

No comments:

Post a Comment