My place is a Cairo, Egypt suburb called Zamalek. I’ve been working and living in this country since 1997. The first fall I was here, tourists were shot and killed in Luxor but I stayed on. In fact for all the years that I’ve lived here, before 2011, the year of the most recent Egyptian revolution, I’ve told friends and family that the country was safe to visit. I told them that any internal turmoil or seemingly anti-tourist sentiment was actually directed at the Mubarak government.
Nowadays, I don’t do that at all. I don’t tell people to come to Cairo and ignore what the media says about violence and protests in Cairo. I’m not sure any more. I talk to my students and they and their parents are not optimistic about the near future. I feel sad for the youth of Egypt because they are the ones that everyone thought could continue what began on January 25, 2011.
I worry that I won’t see in the near future, the Egypt I have loved and trusted. For years, I took the Metro and would come back home late, maybe 11:30 pm and walk 20 minutes to my flat, never fearing a mugging. People in the USA would ask me if I felt safe in Egypt and I always said yes, of course. And I was safe though I don’t think people really understood what I was saying. They couldn’t imagine walking on dark streets late at night, in a major city, and never fearing attack. But that was the way it was in Cairo pre-2011.
Nowadays, I can’t say come, you’ll be safe because I just don’t know. I miss the old Egypt though the same people who welcomed me when I first came are still here. Together we, both expatriate and Egyptian, hope for an Egypt that is a place where we feel at home again.