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.
Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I did. The dewy-eyed predictions of a crime-free revolution were dashed almost immediately in the aftermath of the fall of Mubarak, but these stories were largely buried in the Big Media coverage.
Remember my post on the brutal sexual assault of 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo on the eve of Mubarak's fall? And how Big Media largely ignored the story (or worse, suggested she "deserved it") because it didn't fit with the cyberutopians and their "happy Egyptians" rose-colored narrative?