Mayhem in the Streets of Egypt

by Vince

TheAtlantic has a contributing writer that was mistaken for an Iranian in Cairo and was subsequently drug through the streets:


I have an Iranian stamp, a tourist visa from 2009. Like the United States, Iran includes a photo of the visa-holder on the visa itself. So they saw the visa, with all my biographical details and my photo and “Islamic Republic of Iran,” and thought they were looking at the passport information page of an Iranian citizen. Pretty soon I was being dragged through the street like a deformed farm animal, and the people around me were yelling “Iranian! Iranian!” while I cried out in my best English in protest. We passed two cafés, and no one even bothered to take a shisha pipe out of his mouth to inquire about me.
The men ultimately delivered me to a government building on the Nile, where a man in a police uniform spoke English and confirmed that I was either a native English speaker with an accent appropriate to his nationality, or an Iranian with an unusually effective ESL teacher. He guessed the former and let me go, but not before telling me by way of apology that there are “foreign people in the crowds who want to create danger and kill Egyptians.” He said roadblocks and crowds along the corniche were advised to hunt down “Iranians, Hizbullah, Qataris, Hamas, and” — because why not? — “Israelis.”


It’s incredible that he was able to get away basically unscathed and then able to write about it for the world to see. Its unfortunate during national crises that broad brush prejudices are brought out of the closet and applied so draconianlly and as the author said indiscriminately.

Along with the note on national crises, one of the larger roles of protesting (nonviolently, mind you) is to grab the attention of national and international eyes. They will see despotic leaders order troops to beat up on civilians and cause disgust in the viewer. This was a key aspect of the American civil rights movement. Unfortunately, it can get quite tiresome for the protesters to constantly be beaten and then have the national/international powers remain idle.

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