The atmosphere in Cairo is becoming uglier since Tuesday’s peaceful mass demonstration. Foreign citizens are increasingly becoming targets of suspicion amid rumours that they are behind what is happening to Egypt. euronews spoke to Fedaila, a French girl who has lived in Cairo since the summer of 2009. She lives with an English girl, Jennifer.
“We went out to buy an internet card just next door to where we live but in the road behind the house where we don’t usually go. So the people there didn’t know us. In the shop, four boys started talking to the shopkeeper quite aggressively. We paid for the card, it was 100 Egyptian Pounds (around 15 euros), not a 500 Pound card, which is what the people in the street were saying afterwards. Then we started to go back towards the house when the boys suddenly appeared and told us to open our bags. They didn’t ask in the polite way you usually get asked at checkpoints. It was aggressive. They surrounded us. I nearly opened my bag but I was worried they might be thieves. We felt very threatened. I refused to do what they were asking and as we live just next door we carried on walking. For several days we’ve had to regularly go through checkpoints but this was the first time it had made me scared. Normally the people are very respectful; they apologise for having to go through your bags. This time it was different and it’s not because I’m any more paranoid than yesterday. When we got to our building I wasn’t able to unlock the door, I was too nervous. Jennifer opened and then quickly locked the door. We went into our apartment, which is on the first floor and burst into tears. A few minutes later a group of people came into our building and started to bang on our door and yelling at us to open it. I just opened the small window to talk to them. There were many people in the stairwell, including two girls who appeared less threatening.
I asked that just one man stay with the two girls and that our neighbour come and then I would open the door. I tried to telephone our neighbour but the line was busy. Hearing the shouting our neighbour came from upstairs and told us not to open the door. She tried to reason with them and explain that she knew us well, shouting “they’re my little girls.”
They refused to leave and kept banging at the door. One man, who had a really frightening face came into the apartment with a scythe in his hand. Our neighbour came in at the same time and started shouting at him saying “aren’t you ashamed of yourself, entering respectful women’s apartments?”
We hid on the balcony and cried out for help, for the army to help. No-one moved or at least that’s what it seemed like to us. In the hallway, people were still shouting, there were about ten people there. The neighbour came and asked for our bags so she could show them. She took them and brought them back soon afterwards. We were still on the balcony. In the end two or three soldiers came and calmed everything down and made the people leave. We burst into tears again. I’ve lived here for a year and a half and never felt threatened before. In fact even in a city of 20 million people I have never distrusted anyone.
Now I just want to go back to France. Tomorrow or the day after. I’m scared here now. I’m not Egyptian and I don’t feel I belong here any more, I don’t want to take part in a revolution. All last week, despite the tensions and the violence, I didn’t think about leaving. But now I have to go.
*The young man with the scythe later returned to the apartment and apologised for scaring the girls. He repeated that it was his responsibility to protect the people in the neighbourhood. He said that “foreigners must leave, they are responsible for what is happening”.
From our correspondents in Cairo