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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Security Checks in Cairo

I know everyone at home worries about security for tourists in Egypt.  Security seems quite a bit better here now versus our previous two visits.  There is visible police presence, and they are well armed.  That was a real problem during the revolution.  I would show you pictures of an occasional army tank near major government installations too, except that my traveling companion discourages me from taking any such pictures.

That police unit was standing watch near a mosque in a touristy area of Islamic Cairo today.  A couple of weeks ago when we were out at IKEA on a Sunday, there was a police unit just about every half mile or so, along the Ring Road freeway.

Controlling access to Tahrir Square was an issue during the revolution and Morsi overthrow.  Streets were blocked off with huge concrete blocks which were hard to put in place.  We noticed today that there are now 3 inch thick iron gates surrounding the square that can be closed quickly.

Major shopping centers all have metal detectors and guards at the entrances.  Some have bomb-sniffing dogs that check cars entering the parking lots as do most hotels.

That bomb attack on the police that I blogged about some time ago involved two "thugs on motorcycles" and motorcycles have become a target of suspicion.  Here was a roundup of motorcycles without proper licenses on Pyramids Street from a few days ago.

The police and security staff here bear down on suspicious looking young middle-eastern men - not westerners and old ladies.  It is an interesting concept.  I am not challenged if I set off a metal detector at a shopping center.  My Egyptian companion is.  I don't think that will ever fly at home.  So I don't think motorcyclists such as these - mom and dad with two kids on board and what is probably a father and son carpenter (note the circular saw on back) team on a scooter are going to suffer from increased scrutiny.

By the way, importing motorcycles and Tuk-Tuks is now on hold for at least a year.

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