Friday, February 3, 2012

Letters from Egypt: Two US Women Kidnapped TODAY

In my line of work, I am constantly discussing situations like that of the kidnappings prevalent in Nigeria’s Niger Delta and also with Somali pirates; however, I didn’t think that I would ever see it become a rising trend in Egypt.

I had heard reports of kidnapping of children, and no, it isn’t just foreign children. I never wrote about it because I couldn’t confirm and didn’t want to heighten fears to unnecessary levels had the stories been embellished. I heard of one Egyptian child being taken outside Wadi Degla. The car was stopped and while the father offered to give up his car and all the cash he had on him, the kidnappers instead took the son and demanded more money.

It was reported that two German children were abducted for ransom, which has been paid.


Picture I took on my way from Sharm el-Sheikh to Dahab in the Sinai
Two American women have been kidnapped in the Sinai on their way to see some of Egypt’s famous tourist sites . On their way from St. Catherines, Bedouins with machine guns held up their bus and after taking the tourists’ valuables, opted to grab the women as well. Police and army search parties have been formed to find the kidnapped victims. I hope for a safe and speedy return of the women.

On February 1, Chinese workers were kidnapped. If they learn anything from their kidnapping counterparts in Nigeria and Somalia, they will realize that China does not pay ransom. Bedouins kidnapped 25 workers at a cement factory, but didn’t demand money (because again China nor Chinese companies will pay ransom) yet instead insisted that fellow tribesmen be released from prison. The Bedouins that have been jailed between 2004-2006 were part of an investigation into bombings at the Taba resort (city that borders Israel) in which 31 people were killed.

In January, Bedouins also seized 50 German and British tourists although they were released after a few hours. Four armed men also attacked a hotel in a Red Sea resort area that is popular among Israeli tourists.

Unlike most of Egypt, I’m actually working today (and obviously writing a blog in my spare time). When I got into my office my Egyptian colleague said, “Today is going to be a dark day.”

Unfortunately, many of these guests are going to forever have their view of Egypt marred. Listen, those of us that live here always find room to complain about this country (I complain about my own country too, ie the ridiculous 1% crowd), but there are some wonderful aspects about Egypt as well. I was just on a business trip to the UAE and met up with some Egyptian friends and discussed how I just needed a detox from Egypt. They suggested that I look into moving to Dubai. I said, “Hey, I might complain a lot about Egypt but I also have some really great and hilarious stories. I’ve had a blast here despite the bad times and if I have to live anywhere in the MidEast – I’m glad it’s Egypt as Egyptians really are the personalities of the Arab world.” And I mean that. 

It's disheartening to say the least to see My Egypt turn into this. There are so many more positive things about this country - even if sometimes I find it difficult to see - instead of what those of you outside of Egypt are continuously seeing at the moment.

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