Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Petty crime concern for #Malaysian students in #Egypt

Shafikah Sabri, a second-year medical student at Tanta University in Egypt, had her mobile phone stolen twice in a year.

Such petty crime is becoming something of a norm in Tanta, which is 95km from Cairo.

"Many of our Malaysian students have become victims of petty crime in Tanta. We are targeted because they think we are rich and have money.

"There are some students who had to go to hospital because they were injured when those extorting money used knives to threaten them," said Shafikah, who had finished her exams for the year and was on a return flight to Kuala Lumpur from here.

She said Malaysian students in Egypt are much more careful these days when they move about because of the increasing crime rate.

Her friend Shazni Amran, who was on the flight with her, said a year after Egypt had its elections and president Mohamed Morsi came to power, the unemployment rate seemed to have increased.

"People have become more desperate for money. And the police do not seem to function at all," she said.

"Even our students wearing face veils (purdah) are not spared. I know one who got on a tuk-tuk and the usual fare is one or two Egyptian pounds, but the driver insisted on five Egyptian pounds and pulled out a knife when she refused to pay," she said.

Shazni said village heads in Tanta had given a few Malaysian students staying in hotspot crime areas guns to defend themselves.

"So we have two or three Malaysian students carrying guns for safety. They had gone for national service back in Malaysia so they know how to use guns," she said.

Both girl have taken the recent political upheaval in Egypt - Morsi's ouster and rival groups holding streets demonstrations - in their stride.

"When we read news reports back in Malaysia asking to evacuate our students from Egypt, we think 'Ala there is no need, it's still okay here'," said Shafikah.

On June 30, millions took to the streets in Cairo calling for Morsi to be booted out of office.

Three days later, the army, saying that it was "acting on the will of the people", moved in to oust him.

But pro-Morsi supporters are not taking this sitting down. They are holding massive rallies of their own seeking that he be re-instated. There have been clashes but all these are concentrated in a few areas.

Shafikah and Shazni said they suffered an inconvenience as a result of the demonstrations.

One of their exam papers kept getting postponed. They finally got to sit for the exam on Saturday (July 13). The next day, they were on the flight home.

"We are actually supposed to be in London now. We bought flight tickets for July 10.

"We had wanted to go there for a eight-day holiday but because our exams kept getting postponed, we had to change the date of the flight. We had to pay another RM400 to get the date changed. Now we are going to London in October instead," said Shafikah.

The students start their new academic year in September.

On what advice they would give to those who are currently considering whether they should go to Egypt to study, Shakifah said they should go ahead because the lecturers at the universities in Egypt were really good.

"My only advice is that those coming here have to be mentally and physically strong because there are challenges but this is normal.

"People say that 'if you have lived in Egypt, you can live anywhere'," she said.


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