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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid