Saturday, October 09, 2004

Evil Can Strike Anywhere

You know that you live in a less catered-to area of the world when something happens of importance to your life and the phone lines are so over-burdened with people making calls and trying to get the news on the internet that you can't even connect to Blogger. I arrived home on Thursday afternoon exhausted from travelling and ready to just relax a bit with my creatures and my friends. Friday morning I got a phone call from one of my best friends, a woman who has just moved back to Cairo from Sharm el Sheikh after living there for about 15 years. She told me of the bombing in Taba and it took me about 3 hours to get the BBC news to open. I only just today was able to log on to Blogger and I haven't had the chance to check the updates. The Egyptian news (very government controlled and out front about it so that we don't make the mistake of imagining that it is unbiassed) has mentioned nothing of the incident. With a vast number of Egyptians having internet connections or relatively inexpensive cable connections that bring CNN as well as German, Italian, Spanish, French and British news services, it's pretty hard to keep something like this a secret, but I'm guessing that the government wants more time and information before they respond.

This was a holiday weekend in Egypt and in Israel. Traditionally (that is over the past ten years or so) this is a weekend during which many families head for Sinai for the weekend as many of the less religious Israelis also head for Sinai. Israelis can go to the east coast of Sinai until Sharm el Sheikh at the southern tip without a visa, so this is rather like Americans heading for Mexico or Canada for a quick break. Especially with our exchange rates, which ensure a very cheap holiday. I've been to Sharm for many 6th of October weekends, in fact, this is one of the first that I've missed in years. From Cairo we have to go through about 9 military checkpoints driving down to Sharm, and at least three or four if you drive the northern route to Taba. Taba itself is isolated by checkpoints from any other point in Sinai. As a nice grey-haired woman of that certain age usually travelling with a friend or two and a couple of Rat Terriers, no one has offered to strip search my car, but it does happen with annoying regularity. Getting a truck loaded with explosives there is no mean feat.

Now a pall of depression has settled over all of us. There is no one in Egypt who is unaffected by this horrific action. Every sector of society is touched by tourism; no one is exempt. Imports, manufacturing, food production, transportation ...everything in Egypt is driven by tourism. We've only just begun to feel comfortable again after the hideous tragedy of Luxor in 1997 and now this. I have dealt with bomb threats in London department stores on visits there, bombings have occurred in Paris, there isn't any country that is immune to terrorism and random violence. But I don't know that any other country suffers so much from the publicity as Egypt does. Perhaps it is the fact that we are incredibly safe on a day to day basis (as long as we don't try to cross a street in heavy traffic, which is to say every day) that puts the situation in such a contrast. We all know that people will be cancelling holidays because of travel advisories and so on, but for those of us who live here, nothing has really changed. Do I feel less safe? No. Not even slightly. There is always the chance that I will suffer violence at the hands of some lunatic, whether here in Egypt or in Europe or in North America. Whether the violence is a beating, a shooting, or an explosion really doesn't matter much, does it? Whether I am killed or injured in the company of thousands or alone isn't going to make a bean's worth of difference to my family. I suspect that I run a smaller chance of such violence in Abu Sir or Maadi than I do in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, so I live here.

This is not the post that I thought I would be writing on my arrival back from the US and Canada. I want to thank all of you who sent me encouragement and support during a trip that was pretty devastating to me personally. Sometime soon I hope to be thinking about my life rather than those that were lost in a miserable random act of evil.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I know that I've never met you and that the only attempt I have of knowing is through your blog but when I heard about the attack there I thought of you. I was hoping that you were all right. I'm so glad to hear that you are.