Egypt No-Go

Egypt No-Go

Four-wheel drive cars cross the Egyptian western desert and the Bahariya Oasis, southwest of CairoLast week EWT promoted an Egyptian trip. The killing of a tour group by Egyptian security forces Sunday mandates that we now withdraw that offer.

Tourists deaths, kidnappings and violent injuries are way down in Egypt compared to the “good ole days.” A decade ago 12-15 million people annually visited Egypt and about 250 were killed or violently injured each year.

Many of these were horrible terrorist attacks but no one seemed to care or report about it.

Last year ten million people visited Egypt and less than 20 were killed, kidnapped or violently injured.

Sometimes, though, the numbers don’t speak for themselves.

The attack occurred about 220 miles southwest of Cairo in the Western Desert near an oasis called Bahariya (in some reports, shortened to “Bahyira.”) This is an adventure tourism area popular with backpacking tourists.

The Wall Street Journal reported that four tourist vehicles “clearly marked” with “tourists luggage on roof racks” had stopped for a lunch break.

The Journal further reported that there were 21 people in the convoy, including 14 Mexicans, an American, four Egyptian drivers, an Egyptian guide and a police officer along to guarantee that “The convoy was on the route agreed upon with the authorities.”

London’s Guardian newspaper also reported that the group had permits in their passports which were displayed on Facebook.

Al-Jazeera said helicopter gunships fired on the convoy.

It seems clear to me the Egyptian military made a mistake and that the government is now trying to cover for it.

ISIS and offshoot rebel groups are active in the Egyptian deserts, especially after the catastrophe in Libya and the current Cairo crackdown on Muslim extremists.

Ten years ago in the literal carnage that occurred to tourists in Egypt in its heyday, when everyone was going to Egypt carefree and seemingly unconcerned with the mass political killings of tourists that were regularly occurring, it was the bad guys against the tourists.

Now the problem is we won’t know who the bad guy is.

ISIS, for sure, and one way of avoiding them is to not go into the desert. Most tourists should know this.

But now what about the Egyptian government itself? So paranoid that it presumes any four-wheel drive vehicle is an insurgent?

The uncertainty and reactionary paranoia of the Egyptian government radically alters the prospect of tourism in the country. Remember, it’s not just the facts, it’s how people perceive the facts.

And I for one perceive Egypt at the moment like an over zealous fanatic with too much caffeine holding weapons that are far too dangerous for protecting me.