I shouldn't be writing this right now; there is no point in telling any of you this story. Nothing about my situation will change, I'm not leaving the country, yet I know it'll cause you to worry unduly. It's been churning in my mind all day, ever since I heard about it last night, and, at first, incredulously, did not believe it. While I was tackling mountains in Siwa, there was a mass rape on Talaat Harb during the first day of Eid. Funny, isn't it, how news is hermetically supressed in Cairo? Yes, on the main thoroughfare in Cairo, in broad daylight, gangs of hundreds of men, angry because there were not enough available at the Metro movie theatre, turned into a salacious, salivating, perverted creature that moved as one and pounced on any female nearby, veiled or unveiled, Muslim or Non-Muslim. Tearing her clothes, they groped and violated her and then left her and moved on to the next victim. Here is a link to a more detailed account: http://forsoothsayer.blogspot.com/2006/10/mass-sexual-assault-in-downtown-cairo.html
Some will claim this is fabricated, despite the overwhelming eyewitnesses and photos of the assault. Many, many things disturb me about this story, perhaps because I walk on that street, AUC walks on that street. The Cairo Khan hotel/dorm is about 5 minutes walk from the movie theatre, and one of the easiest routes to campus is down Talaat Harb. Yes, there is a shuttle bus to campus, but it runs infrequently at best, but did AUC choose to inform anyone about this egregious act, no! I, like almost everyone else, learned about it from the Egyptian blogosphere, and only today were there two very small articles in one of the 'indepedent' newspapers about the incident. Did Al-Jezeera report on it , no did CNN or BBC, no, because the inane and utterly corrupt Egyptian government threatened all of the news agencies. How do you function in a society that condones mass rape, that, rather than punishing the officers who turned a blind eye to the events, claim it never happened because there were no reports filed? Does this cycle ever end? How has the Egyptian government so effectively stymied all opposition that a women's talk show guest has to be the first person to actually discuss it on television?
What do we do from here? How can you here those incessant catcalls and not wish to throttle the harasser's throat? Yes, Muslim society is extremely sexually repressed, and, as sex is not just frowned upon, but almost non-existent, outside of marriage, there are lots of lonely men out there. Where do you lay the blame-on Islam, on Egypt's government, on men themselves, on the police, on anyone who watched but did nothing?
We read a poem today in Arabic, dealing with the Palestine/Israeli conflict, and the author asks where does it all begin? And where will it all end?