Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

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Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by DJKeefy » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:20 am

Egyptians say they don't recognize the country now, a place with carjackings, soccer melees and brazen bank robberies.

The headlines reflect a previously unknown cruelty: a woman gunned down in a rich Cairo neighborhood, a rash of carjackings, a deadly soccer riot, a stream of smuggled arms that have given muscle to criminal gangs once easily outgunned by police.

The revolution that inspired this country one year ago has set loose a menacing air that Egyptians find unfamiliar. Bristling beneath the political battle for power against the ruling generals is an insecurity over crime and a bitterness that has darkened Egypt's congenial nature.

Soldiers guard streets but few people feel safe. Police have largely returned to duty after months of work slowdowns, but their presence is sporadic; they appear and disappear at whim. Many Egyptians wonder whether security forces are complacent about or complicit in the mayhem around them, a sense of unease felt by fruit vendors and bankers alike.

"This is an Egypt I do not know," said Tarek Fouad, a sales manager at an international corporation. He said he saw this bewilderment in the faces at the funeral for a relative, who was shot in a January carjacking on the affluent outskirts of Cairo.

The car he was driving wasn't expensive, "but they murdered him to get it," Fouad said. "We kept hearing about such crimes in the news, but now they are common. We're having bank robberies, which is another thing we only saw in Hollywood movies and never, ever imagined they would happen in Egypt."

There are few reliable statistics on the nationwide rise in crime. The state-run Al Ahram newspaper reported an unprecedented jump in violent crimes in 2011, largely attributed to prison breakouts and lack of police. The paper, which offered no comparable figures, said there were 2,774 killings and 2,229 kidnappings last year. The Interior Ministry said recently that crime rates were beginning to fall.

But it is the brazenness of violence that has the country troubled. Seven men burst into a bank firing weapons and robbing tellers in late January; the same day three bandits stormed an armored truck and made off with about $500,000. Days later, scores of families lined up outside a Cairo morgue, watching a broken procession of coffins that carried most of the 74 people killed in the Port Said soccer melee.

Egypt has traditionally been safer than many Western countries, but recent images have turned the nightly news into a catalog of felonies and funerals. Arms smuggled in from Libya to the west and Sudan to the south have fueled tribal clashes in southern Egypt and have wound up on the streets of the capital, where Nermeen Gomaa Khalil, a United Nations consultant, was shot and killed last week by gunmen in a passing car.

Such boldness led to the brief kidnappings this month of American and South Korean tourists in the Sinai peninsula by Bedouin tribesmen. Police have been startled by this type of lawlessness and by intensifying violence in gritty city neighborhoods that have slipped further from their grasp.

"It's bad these days and we keep reading about crimes that never before existed in our community," said Mohamed Radwan, owner of a Cairo gift shop. "After so many years of financial frustration under [President Hosni] Mubarak, a certain class of people is willing to do anything for more money, even if that means killing people while robbing them."

He said political instability and months of deadly clashes between protesters and military-backed security forces give "many thugs the feeling that authorities are too busy confronting politics to chase thieves or provide security."

Mubarak is gone, on trial for murder, but the ruling military council refuses to step aside before a president is elected in May or June, a decision that leaves the newly elected parliament, which is dominated by Islamists, with scant authority.

The fervor from the early days of rebellion has faded into a dirge-like sentiment of promises left unfulfilled. That is the Egypt one hears, whether wandering in Tahrir Square, which in an instant can turn from sad carnival to searing battlefield, or through the towns of the Nile Delta and villages deep in the deserts of the south.

Crime and unrest have also brought a strange degree of equality. The poor have noticed their worries are shared by those with bigger bank accounts and nicer homes.

"We got used to burglaries and attacks and assaults in our poor neighborhoods," said Soad Mahmoud, a Cairo street vendor. "But I see this everywhere now, cars getting stolen and people murdered for money in places that once used to be the safest."

In an article in Al Ahram Weekly, analyst and writer Abdel Moneim Said wondered about the volatile arc of the last year.

"When you arrive at Cairo International Airport, one of the first things you see is Barack Obama's exhortation to American youth to learn from Egyptian youth who waged the most successful revolution in the world. Do these words still apply?" he said.

"Surely they lose their glimmer when mobs attack and kill people just like them, when families are at each other's throats, when roads and railways are obstructed, when ears are severed and churches burned, when banks and currency exchange stores are robbed and even nuclear reactors are broken into, when security breaks down and our national currency reserves seep through our fingers, when the moment our national economy shows a sign of recovery a massacre takes place the next day. The revolution succeeded, but the nation did not!"


Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nati ... 4698.story


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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by DJKeefy » Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:57 am

Even though the report above is mainly about Cairo, on the Luxor front I feel the same, its not the same place like before, crime is still on the rise and when im out and about im always looking around to check my surroundings out, some people say its safe, I say its not as safe as it was before, other say its safer than the UK, that might be so, but we are talking about Luxor and not the UK, comparing it from before the revolution to now.

Last night around 7:30pm I got some cooked chicken from a shop in Medina, I put the bag on the handle bars of my motorbike and drove through Fayrouz, 2 motorbikes with 3 lads on each bike tried to snatch my food, I thought this is really BAD when they lower themselves to stealing food from someone, I kept speeding the bike up to get away but they just kept following me, after about 5 minutes they give up (im quite niffy on a motorbike) The main thing that went through my head was that they could have caused an accident due to their erratic riding of their motorbikes and not really taking much notice of the streets and people on them.

The early horus of this morning, around 3:30am I heard loud shouting and gunfire on the our street, I went to the balcony (crouched down, im a chicken LOL) to see a lad running off down the street, he was trying to break into a shop, this also happen last week 2 night on the trot, 1 shop was robbed, 2 motorbikes stolen.

This is NOT the Luxor I know.... :(
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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Who2 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:31 pm

Nice, it's getting just home here.......:cool:
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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Annadongela » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:09 pm

Do you think they were genuinely after the food - as in hungry, or was it perhaps just something to do?? It certainly sounds scary but in either case - that people are so hungry they are prepared to potentially cause an accident just to get food, or that they are so bored that it's just a bit of fun to potentially cause an accident.

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Arthur » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:48 pm

The tourism ministry seems to continue to live in a parallel universe as it plans a major PR exercise in India to reverse the 60% drop in Indian tourists.

“The number of Indians visiting Egypt has declined sharply compared to other nationalities. The Indian itinerary is mainly based on Cairo and Alexandria sightseeing,” Doaa Fathy, the head of the Indian Department at Travco Travel, tells Egypt Independent. She said Egypt lost around 55 to 60 percent of Indian tourists in 2011... “The media’s focus on violent incidents that have been lately taking place in Egypt depicts the country as unsafe destination,” Fathy says. “However, the unrest is limited to Tahrir Square and does not reach Red Sea resort areas.” http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/674661

So the separate abductions of three Korean tourists, two American tourists, or the 25 Chinese workers and the shooting of the Frenchman during a robbery, all in just the last month, hardly suggests that Sinai is as safe as ever? Clearly the Guardian's Tuesday report "Sinai explodes into violence after years of chronic poverty and alienation" suggests that the unrest is far from confined to Tahrir or Cairo. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/fe ... sfeed=true

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Glyphdoctor » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:19 pm

I was at the Egyptian Museum yesterday and saw at least two groups of Indian tourists as well as a large group of Chinese. Asia is the future and this is a smart move.

The numbers of tourists could have been higher at the museum but actually the numbers were not as bad as one might expect.

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Arthur » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:45 pm

Glyphdoctor wrote:I was at the Egyptian Museum yesterday and saw at least two groups of Indian tourists as well as a large group of Chinese. Asia is the future and this is a smart move.
But it isn't Cairo that they are promoting... “We want to change the misconception that Egypt’s tourism attractions are restricted to Pharaonic civilization. Besides cultural tourism, the country features the charming beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada that should be known to Indians,” says Moatz Sedky, Travco Travel’s deputy general manager of tourism operations.

It is bizarre to be promoting the Red Sea resorts after the recent worldwide publicity on the kidnappings there of mostly... Asians.

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by TonyC » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:27 pm

Arthur wrote:It is bizarre to be promoting the Red Sea resorts after the recent worldwide publicity on the kidnappings there of mostly... Asians.
A bit of perspective is needed here, I think. Arthur attacks the tourism ministry but quotes travel company executives. Of the kidnappings, etc, he mentions, only the shooting of the Frenchmen (the result of a botched bank raid?) happened in a Red Sea resort. The taking hostage of Chinese cement works engineers was many miles away from tourist areas. The few hours' inconvenience experienced by the Americans and Koreans was not in the tourist resorts but out "in the wilds". And Hurghada, one area promoted, is nowhere near Sinai!

I see nothing particularly bizarre about promoting the Red Sea resorts with an eye to future business, especially as they are Egypt's biggest tourist earner (a report last year said they accounted for 80 per cent of tourist business).

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Arthur » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:17 pm

Tony, I don't have any vested interest in declaring Egypt safe or unsafe. I was empathising with Keefy's personal observations that Egypt is far from the same place it used to be before the revolution. I quoted today's article in AMAY because I do sense that there is some official denial about the pervasiveness of the unrest and I underlined the quote from the report: "the unrest is limited to Tahrir Square...". This is, as GD has frequently reported, just not true. What is worrying about the recent kidnappings in Sinai, is that the bedouins targeted tourists specifically, which to my knowledge has not been reported as happening anywhere else since the revolution.

I appreciate that the PR campaign to Indians was probably planned before the recent outbreak of tourist kidnappings, but I'm sticking with my assertion that it is bizarre (and untruthful) to say that the unrest is peculiar to Tahrir.

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Glyphdoctor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:31 am

I don't think Indians are going to say oh they kidnapped a Korean and a Chinese and that means they are probably going to come after me now because I just happen to come from the same large continent.

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Arthur » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:51 am

Glyphdoctor wrote:I don't think Indians are going to say oh they kidnapped a Korean and a Chinese and that means they are probably going to come after me now because I just happen to come from the same large continent.
Or as you previously said...
Glyphdoctor wrote:I think for many if not most people a visit to Egypt, as some have said, is a once in a lifetime event. In that case, coming next year as opposed to this year would likely be a boost to tourism in the long run, as chances are they will have a more positive experience of Egypt to relate to their friends back home next year. Not to mention that even if they have a positive experience this year, most of their friends are still likely to consider them simply adventurous and not follow them in their footsteps no matter how wonderful their trips sound to them. Sure most tourists may still have a positive experience, but how many French tourists have we now lost in the future due to one French tourist being killed? I do understand people are suffering without tourists, but a few bad experiences for tourists now could compound the current situation and scare away even more and create a downward spiral.
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=29079&start=32

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Glyphdoctor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:11 am

And your point is Arthur?

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Arthur » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:20 am

Glyphdoctor wrote:And your point is Arthur?
:urm: Consistency, GD, consistency...

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Glyphdoctor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:10 pm

Whatever that means...Not worth my time to respond I am sure.

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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by Who2 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:48 pm

Quote: I was empathising with Keefy's personal observations that Egypt is far from the same place it used to be before the revolution.

Well, hating to point out the obvious if, it was the same, it would have been a pretty crap revolution as it was as 'revolutions go, it's not one to write home about, but hey it's early days yet, nil desperandum......:cool:
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Re: Rise in crime intensifies unease in once-safe Egypt

Post by DJKeefy » Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:12 pm

That's right Who2 :)
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