News / Middle East

Egyptians' Fear of Crime Soars

An Egyptian mother collects her sons outside a school in Cairo, April 4, 2011. During the recent mass uprising, as much as fifty percent of police disappeared from cities and their withdrawal has created a security vacuum, letting crime flourish.
An Egyptian mother collects her sons outside a school in Cairo, April 4, 2011. During the recent mass uprising, as much as fifty percent of police disappeared from cities and their withdrawal has created a security vacuum, letting crime flourish.

In the months since Egypt's popular uprising, many in the country have felt the revolution came at a price - personal safety.  

Like many other families in Cairo, Nadia, Soheir and Ahmed never paid too much attention to crime. But this year, any minor concerns have grown into full-on alarm.

Nadia, a tourism worker in her 40's, says since the revolution, safety and security don't exist.  She recounts how a relative, driving on a city street last month, was ambushed by masked men with machine guns.  He escaped uninjured, but his car and possessions were stolen.

Nadia says these are new types of crimes in Egypt, and include things like kidnapping.  Violence, she says, has become a phenomenon.

Her sister Soheir agrees. A housewife in her 50's, Soheir says she's concerned about home invasions - enough so that the family, who live in an upscale Cairo neighborhood, are having installed a front door made of re-enforced metal.

But Soheir's main concern is her son, Ahmed, who must often travel for his job as a mechanical engineer. She says she knows it embarrasses him, but she is constantly checking in when he's on the road.

Egyptians share their views on the current crime situation:

Concern about crime is such that Egypt's military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, used it as a justification this week for reviving the nation's much despised emergency law.  "Wives are being kidnapped in the streets," he said, "right in front of their husbands."

But how serious is this increase in crime?  According to a report by the research group Abu Dhabi Gallup, not very.  It says that while the fear of crime has skyrocketed in post-revolution Egypt, the number of actual, reported crimes has stayed more or less the same.

So what's going on?  Political sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo believes Egypt has become less safe.

"When you have a revolution, the security system collapses," he said. "The central government becomes weak. The economy also becomes weak.  So, it is very natural after revolution that you have a period of instability and security problems.  The problem here is the exaggeration."

Sensationalism, political agendas

Sadek blames the media for much of it. Not just the sensationalism which can translate into bigger market share, but political agendas.  Many in the media, he says, still have ties to the old government, and any instability these reactionary forces can highlight, the better they can undercut the revolutionaries' message.

There's also the question of how much crime there really was before.  Sadek says the previous leaders took pains to hide unflattering statistics.  But, at least anecdotally, Cairo used to appear far safer than other major cities, in part because of the heavy hand of the old military-security state.  That makes even a small bump more noticeable by comparison.

There is also the question of the role police play in Egypt. "Remember, we had a police force for a long period that was only efficient in political issues," said American University in Cairo's Sadek. "But, when it comes to crime, normal crime, it was not that efficient and many people had to pay to the police to help them, to be serious about their cases."

Soheir's son Ahmed, the one she worries about when he's out driving, agrees that the attitude of the police, both in the past and present, has affected the number of crimes people report.

"People know there is no security forces and even if they report the crime, there will be no action taken to solve it," said Ahmed. "So, basically, they are saving themselves the hassle of going through the procedures.  And they're turning to alternative methods, which is protecting themselves by themselves."

For Ahmed, that means getting a license to carry a gun.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid