robertisenberg

Egypt: 4

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 9:35 pm

We grew accustomed to seeing well-armed policemen on the street. Side-arms are not nearly as common as light machine-guns. This soldier was stationed only a block from the Egyptian Museum, which is essentially the Smithsonian of Cairo. Sentries were positioned everywhere — in front of entrances, at checkpoints, near hotels, even at the ATM. Every major entryway required that we step through a metal-detector — although nobody seemed to care about X-raying our bags, even where the machines were available.

“It is all for appearances,” said our guide, Mohammed.

But the threat to Egyptian security is all too real: On Nov. 17, 1997, Al Qaeda operatives attacked Hatshepsut’s Temple near Luxor. They massacred 62 people, mostly tourists, before killing themselves in the nearby caves, which were designed for the burial of ancient workers.

Thirteen years, we walked around Hatshepsut’s temple, having no idea how many people were murdered in cold blood, right where we were standing. Whether or not security was maintained for appearances, I was grateful for their presence.

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