Human Rights

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Lawlessness, Blackouts Roil Egypt As U.S. Warns Against Pyramids Tourism

Lawlessness has become so endemic in Egypt that the U.S. Embassy this week warned Americans away from visiting the country’s famed pyramids. A academic teaching at the American University in Cairo received an email from the embassy warning of “aggressiveness [that] in some cases is closer to criminal conduct… with angry groups of individuals surrounding and pounding on [vehicles]… and in some cases attempting to open the vehicle’s doors.” The warning lined up with the professor’s observations:

So, it’s not like I’m easily scared by anything that happens at the Pyramids, that repository for all of Egypt’s most villainous swindlers (every nation has some). But in recent months it has become almost unbearable. It feels almost like an openly criminal environment now. The problem is not only “lack of visible security,” but in some cases the security are either working with the vendors on their scams, or are sexually harassing female foreigners quite openly, even those who are obviously accompanied by their husbands. In short, if you visit Egypt in the near future, don’t even think of going to the Pyramids unless you’re on a large organized bus tour. Anything else is a big risk, for now.

The warning, emailed out over the embassy’s mailing list, was published the same day as a report documenting hundreds of attacks on journalists in Egypt. Most of the attacks, according to human rights adovactes, are being conducted by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Security in Egypt has been plummeting amid blackouts that have heightened public anger against the Muslim Brotherhood-linked government of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi:

The [energy] crisis is adding to the pressure on President Mohamed Morsi, who had promised to tackle the country’s ubiquitous power and fuel shortages, along with a host of other problems, in his first 100 days in office. Hundreds of residents in Alexandria, Kafr El Sheikh, Aswan and other areas have taken to the streets in recent weeks to voice their displeasure, blocking roads and even railway lines while chanting anti-Morsi slogans, according to the independent daily Al Masry Al Youm. More demonstrations are planned June 30, to mark the first anniversary of Morsi’s presidency.

A popular petition calling for Morsi’s removal was declared by a top Muslim Brotherhood figure today to be “null and void.”

[Photo: sheilapic76 / Flickr]