Crime Wave in Egypt Has People Afraid, Even the Police

The neighbors watched helplessly from behind locked gates as an exchange of gunfire rang out at the police station. Then about 80 prisoners burst through the station’s doors ”” some clad only in underwear, many brandishing guns, machetes, even a fire extinguisher ”” as the police fled.

“The police are afraid,” said Mohamed Ismail, 30, a witness. “I am afraid to leave my neighborhood.”

Three months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a crime wave in Egypt has emerged as a threat to its promised transition to democracy. Businessmen, politicians and human rights activists say they fear that the mounting disorder ”” from sectarian strife to soccer riots ”” is hampering a desperately needed economic recovery or, worse, inviting a new authoritarian crackdown.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Politics in General

10 comments on “Crime Wave in Egypt Has People Afraid, Even the Police

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    When you have populist democracy, the mob rules and the rights of individuals are infringed or taken away.

  2. Jeremy Bonner says:

    The article points out that many of the problems stem from the previous lack of accountability of the police force and their present poor standing in the eyes of much of the population. Considering the sums that the US invested in Hosni Mubarak, it’s a pity that some of it wasn’t devoted to promoting the values that western police forces seek to inculcate. Blaming “populist democracy” for everything that is happening now is far too simplistic (particularly since the army is supposedly exercising oversight at present).

  3. AnglicanFirst says:

    Reply to Jeremy Bonner (#2.).
    Several points Jeremy.

    Foreign policy and diplomacy are most effectively carried out with a vision of the ‘world as it is’ and not the ‘world as an idealist would wish to see it.’

    Foreign policy often is and often must be a balance of alternatives.

    The alternatives in the Middle East when Mubarak Egypt and Israel were joined in a mutual relationship with the USA were ‘war and more war.’ Period.

    Further, a trouble making Soviet Union was waiting in the sidelines to create even more subversion and trouble in the Middle East. And please remember that jihadist Arab terrorism was being fully supported by the Soviet Union’s KGB (the Soviet Union’s Communist Party intelligence and police organization) and the GRU (which was the Red Army’s version of the KGB). The historical tactics and techniques roots of modern Islamic terrorism can be traced directly to the Soviets.

    Egypt, due to its incipient Muslim radical fundementalism, is a an almost ungovernable country. Mubarak, regardless of his methods, kept the lid on the possibility of an even more potentially repressive and dangerous Egypt.

    So are a lack of ‘law and order’ and repressive populists GOOD and a dictatorial Mubarak who maintained a semblance of stability and his ‘law and order BAD?’

    I think, in the case of Egypt, Mubarak was a sane alternative to chaos and war.

    And I think that your views on the chaos of the dictatorship populism (ala the French Jacobins being reborn in Egypt) is to quote you “far too simplistic.”

  4. Jeremy Bonner says:


    I don’t disagree with you that there was a realpolitik argument for supporting Mubarak after Sadat’s assassination. My point was that having chosen to make such an investment, it would have been prudent for the US to devote part of that to civic education (including education of the police in how such a body ought to behave). Such education takes time but it might have ultimately produced a security service that was able to shift gears to deal with a post-Mubarak landscape. It didn’t happen and this is the consequence. Trust has to be earned.

    But at this point it hardly matters. The Arab Spring has come and surely we should be dealing with it directly, by trying to sustain those elements within it that are most inclined to promote values at least partially congruent to those of the West. At the moment there is no populist democracy to critique, merely a military-led transitional authority. If there is chaos now, it is because that transitional authority doesn’t know how to deal with it.

    I’m not quite sure where the Jacobins come into it; I didn’t mention them.

  5. AnglicanFirst says:

    Reply to Jeremy Bonner (#4).

    The Jacobins “came into it” because they are a stark and everlasting reminder of the brutality that a populist mob led by a radical political elite is capable of wreaking on those whom they chose to attack. The French nobility and aristocracy may have many faults, but the populist Jacobin murders of those persons was an undersrved excess to the extreme.

    Even ‘gentle’ populism is dangerous to truly representative govenment. And this danger is a primary justification for our bi-cameral’ Congress and the checks and balances betwseen our three branches of federal government.

    And by the way, those three branches are not the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Presidency as thought by some of our own populist political leaders

  6. Sick & Tired of Nuance says:

    I thought all these folks were “good” Muslims. How can this be? Don’t they fear Allah?

  7. Jeremy Bonner says:

    Anglicanum (#5)

    None of this is pertinent to the article under discussion.

    Sick and Tired (#6)

    Didn’t we ask the same when Hutu Christians took to the streets of Rwanda in 1994? Original sin is inherent to the human condition.

  8. AnglicanFirst says:

    Reply to Jeremy Bonner who said,
    “Anglicanum (#5)

    None of this is pertinent to the article under discussion.”

    Yes it is.
    I take a broad view and historical view of politics and human behavior.
    Apparently you have a more confined and narrower perspective.

  9. Jeremy Bonner says:

    Anglicanum (#8)

    I find that a bit rich, since I’m constantly urging historical context on T19 to people who frequently seem to want to dispense with it.

    Trying to shoehorn the Arab Spring into the French Revolution just because it plays to your prejudices is just as faulty as trying to shoehorn it into Communism’s demise in Eastern Europe in 1989 (as some commentators have been trying to do). There are pertinent analogies and then there are the unique historical characteristics of any event.

    Personally, I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge yet what the ultimate fruit of the Arab Spring will be.

  10. MichaelA says:


    The problem was with your first post where you cited this unrest as an example of the perils of “populist democracy”.

    Jeremy quite rightly pointed out that that is not an accurate characterisation. Rather, this unrest is the consequences of a breakdown in law and order after an authoritarian leader lost control. It may have been inevitable, and the West may have had no real option but to support Mubarak for all those years (I make no final judgmenton that, yet), but to characterise this unrest as an issue of “populist democracy” is simply no accurate (unless of course you define “populist democracy” so broadly as to deprive the term of any real meaning).