Fears & Anxieties (with statistics!)

It was not my intention to upset or concern anyone about safety in Cairo when I posted my reactions and findings from the book, “Taxi.” [Within hours of posting I received a flabbergasted call from a dear girlfriend who said, “Why the hell did Ron bring his feminist, animal rights, American wife to that horrible place?” (I’m paraphrasing a bit.)] I understand and appreciate her concerns, and in reverse I’d probably feel the same way. I told her that I hadn’t even shared the latest bit of horror – which started with us leaving for the commissary last weekend and seeing a beautiful camel tethered behind a new building across the street. I’ve never seen a camel in Zamalek so I was initially delighted (he looked gorgeous and furry, calmly sitting and chewing away). Ron remained quiet, which at the time I didn’t read into. A few hours later when we returned I automatically looked for the camel as we drove by and was faced with him being skinned (dead). Ron said he was afraid of that, knowing that it’s a tradition here to slaughter an animal to commemorate a new building. Just heartbreaking.

Anyway, in terms of violence and crime (against humans) in Cairo, I did a little research and found the following – though keep in mind, Cairo stats are not plentiful online (and there is the added issue of how much faith to put in any online data), but I found a few scattered references:

> Egypt doesn’t even rank in the top 83 countries for highest murder rate (USA is 5th and India is 1st);
> highest murders with firearms, USA is 4th, South Africa is 1st and Egypt isn’t in the top 48;
> highest rapes, USA is #1, sadly almost double South Africa’s second place and Egypt isn’t in the top 84;
> for assaults, USA is #1, over three times as many as UK’s second position, and Egypt isn’t in the top 78.

Now, I do realize that statistics are only as good as those who report them (plus there’s the added issue of a lot of crimes, such as assault, not getting reported to the police here due to lack of trust), but there’s no question it’s far less violent than the US… so we’ll just leave it at that.

Here are some other findings:

From an August 2005 article:
Washington, D.C., Is 100 To 1000 Times As Dangerous As Cairo, Egypt.
[Quote from the University of Texas:] “'The fact is that the actual incidence of violence in Egypt is very rare: Cairo is a much safer city than any of the major cities in Europe or the United States. The annual murder rate in the city of Washington, DC, a city of just over 600,000 people, tends to be about as high as the murder rate in the entire country of Egypt -- a country of just over 60,000,000 people -- over a ten year period. That means that the murder rate is over one thousand times less in Egypt than it is in Washington, DC, and yet there is still a perception that Egypt is dangerous.' This observation tends to agree with statistics from other sources. Official US figures for murders in Washington over the past fifteen years have fluctuated from about 40 to 80 per 100,000 per year, while UN figures for Egypt show a rate of around 0.5 per 100,000. This implies that murder is 80 to 160 times as prevalent on a per-capita basis in Washington as in Egypt as a whole. I could not find a specific murder rate for Cairo, but UT’s comment suggests that it is comparable to or even lower than the national murder rate. But, although whether Egypt is 100 times or 1000 times as safe as Washington may be debatable, it’s certain that you can feel much more confident walking around the streets in Egypt during the day or at night. It can only be supposed that rates for other crimes follow the same pattern. One might also consider offenses on the street that are less than criminal, like insults, taunts and lewd remarks, which are much more common in the US than in Egypt.”

Another source:
“There is not a large prevalence of violent crimes in Cairo, but tourists should be aware of petty crimes, such as purse-snatchings, which are more common. In addition, it is recommended that tourists who are women should not travel anywhere alone as they may become victims of verbal abuse or sexual harassment.”
(That last line doesn’t apply to me as I’m a “resident” not a “tourist”.) ☺

And while searching I found this, which I found amusing:
“There is nothing that works right,” said Ahmed Fouad Negm, Egypt’s most popular contemporary poet. “Everything is corrupt and loose. And because the regime does not engage in political dialogue, it resorts to police repression. How can a state run on police?”

Of course, now this doesn’t mean I relax my Spidey-Sense and go larking about with vapid innocence, but I hope this can assuage any concerns of us living in a dangerous city. However, in the reverse, I’m now terrified for everyone living back home! Stay inside, barricade the doors, only answer for Ed McMahon!