Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Will H1N1 put an end to harassment of foreigners in Cairo...

...or will it create a new kind of harassment?

No matter how long you live in Egypt as a foreigner, walk down any street and you will hear the familiar "Welcome in Egypt!" Walk down any street downtown and you will be followed by countless numbers of Egyptian men who want to tell you the best places to go and the best ways to get there, and all about their cousin/brother/aunt who just so happened to move to whatever country it is you are from. But these days you might find things to be slightly different. Instead of the usual staring because you look or are dressed differently - you may find people suddenly covering their faces with tissues or rushing to get their face masks out of their purses. Instead of being followed across the street and then casually invited into a nearby souvenir shop that just so happens to be owned by the guy following you - instead, you may see them running the other way to get as far away from you as possible.

AUC student Katie Jones writes in this article for the Daily News Egypt:

"During a trip to the neighborhood of Zamalek, I was no longer
subject to the standard harassment of the Egyptian street, calls of “Miss America!” or
“Obama, very good!” Instead, a colleague and I were greeted with a yell of “H1N1!”

Now granted almost all of the H1N1 cases recently discovered in Cairo were American or those returning from the States, this new treatment will, no doubt, not be received well by foreigners in the long run. Especially the ones, like me, who have been living in Cairo for over one and a half years. I'm just as much at risk as the average Egyptian.

Furthermore, as someone who rarely gets harassed, (with the exception of the occasional WELCOME IN EGYPT), I'm afraid those days might be over. I was planning on taking the Metro downtown next week. I guess I'll find out then.

1 comment:

  1. Yes!!! I never thought of this before I experienced it, was out with my husband. Someone yelled "pigs pigs" out of his car window. I hate this ignorance. They think (not all of course) that you can get it by eating pork or from pigs. I'm a foreigner, pigs/pork is not haram to me = I must eat it and therefore I am a walking danger. And like you said, maybe because they think you just came from abroad.