Me & Twenty10: Egypt vs SA

15/01/2010 at 13:21 9 comments


Some people say that FIFA made a mistake by allowing the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in South Africa, primarily because of South Africa’s high crime rate. Louise Taylor in the Guardian for instance writes that Egypt should have won the bid. “Statistics, anecdotes and research suggest that touring the Rainbow nation as a fan next summer could be a dangerous option. In fact, the 2010 World Cup should have gone to Egypt,” she says in Why going to South Africa for the World Cup terrifies me.

Terror attack on tourist sites

Although crime in the land of the Pharaoh’s is indeed much lower compared to the situation in South Africa, Egypt’s safety and security record is far from flawless. There have been quite a number of bomb and terror attacks on tourists and tourist sites, as well as attacks on civilian targets. In October 2004, resorts in the Red Sea villages of Taba and Ras Shitan were attacked by terrorists, during which 34 people – mostly Israeli tourists, were killed.  Over  100 persons were wounded. April 2005 saw various incidents against tourists in Egypt.  On 7 April 2005, a bomb packed with nails killed 2 tourists, a French woman and an American man. About 18 people were wounded.

On 30 April 2005, two young women opened fire on a bus in Cairo. Two passengers were wounded.  Two hours earlier that same day, the man suspected of involvement in a Cairo tourist bombing April 7 2005  jumped wildly from a bridge overpass during a police chase and ignited a bomb he was packing. In total, seven people were wounded, including  four foreign tourists.

A few months later, on 22 July 2005 three bomb explosions at the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh killed at least 88 people. Two hundred people were injured. In April 2006, the Egyptian resort city of Dahab was targeted by three bomb attacks.  At least 23 people, both tourists and Egyptians, were killed and 80 people were wounded. In September 2008, eleven western tourists and eight locals were taken hostage by gunmen. They were released a week later.

In February 2009, four people, including two tourists, were killed and twenty other people injured after a bomb explosion in the centre of Cairo. In May 2009, a home made bomb exploded in Cairo. No one got hurt, but many people were left shaken. On January 10 2010, seven people were killed in a drive-by shooting outside a church in Nag Hammadi, a town in Egypt’s Qena province.

“But that is nothing compared to South Africa’s crime problem,” you’d  say. Well, I was not comparing both countries. I was simply pointing out that, without sticking my head in the sand with regards to South Africa’s major crime problems, Egypt has quite a history of attacks on tourists. But they do not tell you that in the travel brochures.

Effort in boosting safety and security

What I also have to point out is that the South African government and various stake holders including the police are putting a lot of effort  in making sure people, both locals and tourists, are safe during the 2010 FIFA world cup: 50.000 extra cops are being trained as we speak, every world cup stadium will boast a police station and various police holding cells to lock up criminal and misbehaving tourists. Long distance trains alike will be fitted with holding cells and a mobile police station.  In addition, 54 special 2010 world cup courts are being established to deal with 2010 related crime effectively.

Zero crime? probably not

In their efforts to protect locals and tourists from criminals, the South African police service will be working closely together with Interpol, and police services from various European countries as well as private security companies, the anti terrorist unit and the army. Will this be a guarantee for a zero crime world cup? Probably not. Large crowds of people attract criminals – period.  No FIFA World Cup in history has been crime free.

Doing your bit

Staying safe is however not only the task of the government and the police. Visitors as well as locals have a responsibility too, and there are various very obvious things one can do to prevent falling victim to criminals. By this I do not mean that you have to arm yourself to the teeth while wearing a bullet proof jacket. For a list of safety tips issued by the government, please click here. These are very obvious tips, that are applicable to many holiday destinations and to both locals and tourists.

Last but not least: Let’s not forget that South Africa has quite a bit of experience when it comes to hosting large international events. And large events, no matter where they are hosted, always go hand in hand with safety and security threats and risks. South Africa in that respect, is not a trainee. events South Africa has hosted over the years:

So maybe the world should give South Africa a chance and a break. Personally, I am convinced that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the best world cup football in the history of FIFA. I hope you do too.

More 2010 FIFA World Cup safety news on Twenty10:

  • Safety FAQ on Twenty10
  • ‘Prepare for disasters in 2010!
  • No link Togo tragedy and world cup
  • 700.000 ticket applications for 2010
  • German photographer in court for bomb scare during Final Draw
  • South Africa: special courts for 2010
  • Scramble for world cup base camps
  • Final Draw: safety prio number one
  • © Miriam Mannak and Twenty10soccerworldcup, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material – both text and photographs – without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Miriam Mannak and Twenty10soccerworldcup with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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