A “Code Red” in Egypt

Due to internet problems, I have not been online in almost a week. Today is my last day in Egypt; I will return home tommorow. So much has happened in Egypt that it is hard to know where to begin.

Because I am now pressed for time, I would like to share with you a bulletin about what has been going on in the streets of Egypt, along with links to interesting articles concerning the matter.

One of the Lions that Gaurd the Oct. 6 bridge. Can Egypt rise up again like the lion, and resume it's pride and dignity?
  • Top officials barred from Traveling Port Said, a large city on the Mediterranean, was the scene of more than 70 deaths as violence broke out at a football match. Fans stormed the field, attacking the players and then each other. While watching the coverage on TV a million questions ran through my head: what possessed them to attack the players? What possessed other spectators to join in the melee? And furthermore, why didn’t the police try to control the scene? Footage shows them just idly standing, not even trying to stop the rioting. The scene was, to quote my husband, “like crazed animals being released from a cage:” men were just running across the field, not for any purpose such as to run for safety or even to join in the fight; they just ran as though they were at a track meet, or, as an American friend who was over at the time for dinner said, “As though it was their dream to run across the soccer pitch.” Since then, massive protests have erupted throughout Egypt, leading to only more deaths, and top officials in Port Said have been banned from traveling out of the country as they face inquiries as to how this tragedy could have happened. There is talk of conspiracy on the terms of the government/police/military, but from what I can see, it was just a bunch of people rioting for no good reason.
  • Fire in Cairo Stadium On February 1st, a fire broke out in Cairo Stadium during a football match (Zamalek vs. Ahly) after officials learned of the fighting in Port Said. Although this article states that the fire was due to a “circuit failure,” videos (youtube) showed hooligans setting off fireworks and running around along the track that surrounds the field. Cairo Stadium is just minutes away from my flat in Nasr City, and I watched the news coverage on TV with utter horror because, yet again, the police on hand seemed to do nothing to control the scene and, furthermore, the acts of the fans were just unbelievable. Fireworks are dangerous and should only be used in a controlled setting. Using them in a public place such as a stadium is poor judgement, and once again, people were both killed or injured in the incident. Personally, for everyone’s safety, I feel that fireworks should not be bought by the public! (This is one NY state rule that I agree with!)
  • Gunmen rob HSCB in New Cairo This article includes the link to the video that was shot of the masked gunmen robbing the bank; what I’m curious about is, who filmed the robbery? Some bloke was just looking out the window with his camera and spotted the incident, or was he in on it? What’s disturbing about this incident is that it was one of several robberies throughout Egypt in the past week; similar robberies were also held in the resort town of Sharm al-Shiekh, where two European tourists were killed by Bedouin gunmen.
  • Americans Kidnapped by Bedouins 2 Female American tourists were kidnapped for ransom by a Bedouin tribe, according to this article not for money but for the release of political prisoners. I do believe that they have since been released, but seriously: if Egyptians ever want a single tourist (tourism is a vital part of the Egyptian economy) to come back to Egypt, they need to rethink all of this protest and violence. Kidnapping is a surefire way for your country to be on the “Travel advisory” that the TSA puts out; even I, as a ardent traveler with a love for adventure, would not attempt to go to a country on this list!
The result of this week of terror? People have done what they do best here in Egypt: taken to the streets in their anger and frustration. Violence begets violence: more people are dead as a result of the protests. But shouldn’t mourners, those who lost a loved one in these events, be at home, grieving, and not stampeding the streets? Part of me believes that the robberies-for there were many more than the two that I just mentioned-were more than coincidence; after all, nothing like this has happened in the whole past year since the revolution, and now we have all this mayhem in just a week’s time.  I don’t want to believe that the stadium tragedies were the SCAF’s/police’s fault, because it would just show more gross error on their part and surely they would be smart enough (one would hope, but then again, in the past they have proved wrong) to realize that instigating these tragedies would only make the public hate them more. Part of the blame surely rests in the bloody hands of the average Egyptian who participated in the Port Said riots, or the mayhem at Cairo Stadium, and that means, sadly, that they only have themselves to blame.

As this will most likely be my last post on Egyptian soil, I would like to give a bit of parting advice to the Egyptian people, specifically those who feel the need to roam the streets, protest and cause mayhem:

Be cool. Calm down. Ask yourself what you really want, and how it may be achieved. Go to a masjid and pray for hope, pray for an answer. The Koran itself  does not condone violence just for the sake of violence. Roaming the streets, throwing smoke bombs and attacking each other will not solve your problems nor your conscience. Your country was a magnificent center of civilization; let’s restore it to it’s former glory, so that all Egyptians can be proud to call themselves Egyptians. Inchallah, I will be back to Egypt many times over the course of my life, and I hope to find it in good hands.

S-L-M

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