Here is a nice little anecdote from Cairo…
It is becoming clear that petty street crime is on the rise in Cairo and it is most likely due to increasingly desperate economic conditions that stem from a devastated tourism sector, corruption, and poor economic policies.
Earlier this evening I went my friend/tutor, Nabil, and an American buddy to Khan al-Khalili, a famous market here in Cairo. Nabil needed to purchase something in the market. After about an hour and a half of meandering through the market’s narrow streets and alleys, we made our way to a main street and began to walk to the nearest Metro (subway) station. We had inadvertently formed a three-man line with me in the lead, navigating the many obstacles that a street in Cairo always contains. A young leather-jacket clad guy walked past me and said “Give me a guinea (1 Egyptian pound valued at about 15 American cents)”. I ignored him and carried on.
I soon realized that Nabil and my friend Michael were no longer keeping up with me so I turned around and saw the guy who had asked me for money giving my friend Nabil a hard time. Nabil is quite small in stature so I confronted the guy messing with him and asked if there was a problem. The guy turned around, shoved me with his arm, and began to walk off. I quickly replied with an Arabic obscenity, shoved the guy pretty hard and sent him backpedalling. He angrily walked away.
I assumed that he was carrying a knife as many Egyptians in their teens and twenties tend to do, so I kept my eyes on him as we once again pressed on toward the Metro station. Nabil soon walked up to me and thanked me for helping him out. He then told me that the guy had flashed a knife and to told him to empty everything from his pockets. What I had thought was an aggressive attempt at begging was in fact an attempted robbery.
I later joked with Nabil, who is from Yemen, that American intervention isn’t always a bad thing.