Tahrir Square on Friday
Photo: AFP

Egypt: Foreigners suffer growing animosity

Special Ynet, Yedioth Ahronoth reporter in Cairo has near-escape from drug scheme, just one symptom of criminality festering in Egypt due to political upheaval

CAIRO – With Monday's elections fast approaching, violence against protesters saw yet another spike as tens of thousands flooded Tahrir Square on Friday, demanding an end to the military rule.


But as tensions flared between the political camps within Egypt, enmity towards foreigners saw a corresponding escalation.



Marwan was just one of the many Egyptians that I've met during the rally that was dubbed "Last Chance Friday." A hotel worker, Marwan arrived in the capital for a short vacation, and due to the fact that his family lived nearby he decided to stop by the square and check out the action.

הפגנת המיליון בכיכר א-תחריר. "גם מובארק לא היה נורא" (צילום: AFP)

'Million-man' march on Friday (Photo:AFP) 


He felt no solidarity for the demonstrators, Marwan said, and had nothing against the army presence. To him, former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted by the same protesters in February, didn't seem that terrible either.


"Those who organize these rallies get funds from foreign sources," he said. "Foreign hands are stirring the events here."


Friend or foe?

He invited me to get away from the crowd, where we could talk politics without interruption from protesters. We sat down not far from the Nile riverbank and had a long chat over a beer. At one point Marwan ducked out to get cigarettes, a task that took him quite some time. Upon his return I decided to get back to the square, but was interrupted by the appearance of two angry young men in leather jackets.


Yelling and threatening, they said they were police detectives and demanded to see my ID. When I said I had left my documents back at the hotel, the two decided to crank up the violence. One grabbed me by the arm, yelling that I was about to be thrown in jail. They asked to see my bag, and when they opened it, they found a baggie that wasn't there before: Drugs.


This was when Marwan decided to interject: "Pay him off," he urged me. "If he calls the cops, you'll be in big trouble."

הפגנה בקהיר בסוף השבוע (צילום: EPA) 

Cairo protest (Photo: EPA)


I said that don't have money and have no problem with them calling the police, but that angered them even more. They began pushing me around. Finally, they took a break to confer, at which point I made a run for it. I caught the first cab that passed by, and was out of there.


While the unpleasant incident does not compare to the wave of sexual assaults suffered recently by a number of foreign journalists in Egypt, it was yet another indicator of the escalating hostility directed towards visitors amidst the deepening political rift in the Middle Eastern country.


While the Tahrir Square protest on Friday called for the establishment of civilian government, a mass rally was held in support of the military. The demonstrators denoted the suspicion felt towards the opposition forces; conspiracy theories, not unlike the one expressed by Marwan, were prevalent, and criminals had no qualms about exploiting the uncertainty to their own advantage.


The two rival camps - those for a civilian government and those against it – were expected to hold competing rallies on Sunday, less than 24 hours before the voting stations were to open for the historic parliamentary elections.


Despite local and international pressure to postpone the elections due to the technical difficulties to supervise its proceedings, the ruling military council insisted on going through with the vote as planned.




פרסום ראשון: 11.27.11, 12:22
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