Saturday, May 14, 2011

Egypt totters toward anarchy

If this keeps up they will start looking like Northern Mexico.

I do not watch much television, so I am not aware of how much publicity this news has been getting.  The extent of the breakdown in the social order is compelling. What is noteworthy is that between the two reports sited below, there is little overlap in the incidence that they are governing; there are enough problems that there is no need for repition.

David D. Kirckpatrick of New York Times, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 13 May 2011
CAIRO -- 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.
At least five attempted jailbreaks have been reported in Cairo in the past two weeks, at least three of them successful. Other attempts take place "every day," a senior Interior Ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly.
Newspapers brim with other episodes: the Muslim-Christian riot that raged last weekend with the police on the scene, leaving 12 dead and two churches in flames; a kidnapping for ransom of a grandniece of President Anwar el-Sadat; soccer fans who crashed a field and mauled an opposing team as the police disappeared; a mob attack in an upscale suburb, Maadi, that hospitalized a traffic police officer; and the abduction of another officer by Bedouin tribes in the Sinai.
"Things are actually going from bad to worse," said Mohamed ElBaradei, the former international atomic energy official, now a presidential candidate. "Where have the police and military gone?"
Hamza Hendawi of Associated Press, MSNBC World News
The ineffectiveness of the police force was on display Saturday when thousands of soccer fans invaded the field before the end of an African Champions' game between local club Zamalek and Tunisia's Club Africain. The hundreds of policemen on duty at Cairo International Stadium could not stop the violent invasion.
With police hardly visible in Cairo, masked gunmen in two cars kidnapped a grandniece of Sadat — Egypt's president until he was assassinated in 1981 — while she was driven to school on Sunday morning at the upscale suburb of Heliopolis. Zeina Effat Sadat's family car was intercepted by one of the gunmen who forced his way into the girl's vehicle. The kidnappers later beat the driver and forced the girl into one of their cars.
The 12-year-old was released Monday after her father paid ransom. Police later arrested six men for their alleged role in the kidnapping and found a briefcase in their possession with 2 million pounds (about $340,000), according to security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. They said the kidnappers, who included university graduates, had demanded 5 million pounds (about $840,000) in ransom.

Many Cairo parents periodically keep their sons and daughters away from school because of a rise in the kidnappings of children. Armed robberies in the capital have also been increasing in Cairo's poor neighborhoods, outlying areas and on highways. Some of the malls that have been looted and torched have reopened but attract only a fraction of the shoppers that thronged them before the uprising. Some have taken luxury items off their shelves, fearing a repeat of the looting during the uprising.

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