Thursday, February 2, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Riots and Robberies

The WSJ’s article title “Egypt Soccer Riots Rekindle Fears of Instability” must only pertain to those not currently living in the country since I’m not sure the term ‘stability’ has coincided with Egypt since January 25, 2011.

Looking at my previous blogs discussing the anarchy that continues to spiral out of control (including the blog Maadi Thugs Use Stun Gun to Attack Females), “rekindle” might not be the appropriate word since it implies that there was at some point the feeling of stability.

And now in what is supposedly the “deadliest soccer violence since 1986,” Egypt has made more headlines with at least 74 people dead after the country’s rival teams played a match yesterday. The US Embassy sent out an alert that warned of more demonstrations after yesterday’s incident caused the cancellation of a soccer match scheduled today. The Embassy warning said, “The high level of emotion over these occurrences, coupled with already-planned demonstrations in the downtown area, have elevated concerns over the likelihood of street clashes and significant traffic congestion.”

People are gathering in Tahrir to wait the arrival of the bodies of those killed yesterday and even outside of Tahrir, crowds of people are forming. I can confirm that at noon today, Gazeer Square on Nasr Street, began seeing a gathering.

Last night mass mobile texts were sent out calling for more protests against the military.

Maybe the WSJ article was discussing Egypt’s financial situation when it used the word “rekindle” although that’s still incorrect since the economy in Egypt is nowhere near the pre-revolution levels. In fact, S&P downgraded the country’s credit rating and is currently considering further action.

  • ·         A foreign oil firm located in Maadi was said to have been the victim of robbery on February 1. With power lines slashed and security bars cut, the company’s office was wiped clean of files, computers and furniture.
  • ·         HSBC branch in New Cairo held up at gunpoint on January 30 seizing about $150,000. See YouTube video of assailants making their getaway
  • ·         An armored vehicle was attacked in Helwan (Cairo) on January 31.
  • ·         On January 28, a French tourist was killed in Sharm el-Sheikh after a robbery took place at a money exchange place.

While crime has significantly increased since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, the crimes listed above were previously considered rare.

In my own building, my neighbor’s car was broken into while a month later he received a phone call that men were stealing his motorcycle. He went outside to stop the culprits and was able to recover it, but the men had a car ready to load the motorbike up and pretended that they had back-up in the area. I have had someone attempt to break in through a door in one of my rooms as well as a man entering our building at 8 am trying to get into apartments hoping that the doors were not properly closed.

For those of you living in Cairo, new police numbers have been issued. I have added a new page on my blog that gives a detailed list of the numbers for the Cairo area. If you have numbers for other governorates and would like to pass them on, I will be more than happy to add them. There is supposed to be one English speaker in each group; however, I will also state that after the revolution, the police are of little help. It isn’t as though they don’t want to do their jobs, but they have little power to help enforce much-needed order.

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