Egypt reels under 'toughest' curfew

The curfew announcement was initially taken lightly by Egyptians, who seem to have gotten used to curfews, including the five announced by authorities over the past three years alone

Egypt reels under 'toughest' curfew

World Bulletin/News Desk

Although Egyptians have learnt to live under curfews over the past six decades – 11 curfews to be exact, half of them in the past two years alone - many believe the current nighttime curfew to be the "toughest," and are accusing authorities of "taking it too serious."

Nadia Mohamed, a 57-year-old mother who has been expecting a grandchild, is very critical of the curfew imposed by the army-installed presidency.

One evening after the curfew went into effect, she received a call from her daughter who was in labor.

Rushing to be beside her daughter in such an hour of need, she was stopped at a military checkpoint only a few meters away from her destination, and told to go back home.

"My daughter was giving birth. She needed me next to her that day," Mohamed told Anadolu Agency.

"The troops at the checkpoint just did not care. They forced me to return home."

Interim President Adly Mansour imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in 14 provinces in the hopes of curbing mass protests sparked by the bloody dispersal of two major sit-ins by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president.

The heavy-handed security crackdown, which lasted for several hours, resulted in hundreds of fatalities.

The curfew announcement was initially taken lightly by Egyptians, who seem to have gotten used to curfews, including the five announced by authorities over the past three years alone.

On social media many even jokingly recalled a curfew imposed during the 2011 revolution that toppled long-serving Hosni Mubarak, when defiant protesters took to the streets in larger numbers as the grip of the state weakened.

Others remembered a curfew slapped on the coastal city of Port Said last year during which army troops used to play football with citizens during curfew hours.

However, Egyptians soon came to discover this curfew was nothing like other they have seen before.

Army and police forces were deployed in the streets in huge numbers and were strictly enforcing the curfew.

"Three days ago, I was not able to get home and was forced to spend the night at work," said Mohamed Fathi, a journalist.

"I can understand the reason for imposing a curfew, but what I cannot understand is to declare an exemption for journalists then simply refuse to honor it," he fumed.

Tamer Abdel-Raouf, the head of the state Al-Ahram newspaper's office in Beheira, was shot dead and Hamed al-Barbari, a colleague from the state-run Al-Gomhuria newspaper, was injured at an army checkpoint last week.

Army spokesman Ahmed Ali said in a statement on Facebook that their car was speeding and failed to respond to the troops' calls to stop, raising suspicion and triggering the troops manning the checkpoint to open fire at the vehicle.

However, al-Barbari disputed the army's version of events and accused troops of firing at them unprovoked.

He was later accused of arms possession during the same incident.

Economic impacts

The nighttime curfew has added more insult to Egypt's economic wounds, according to figures by business owners and the government.

"It's a disaster," Loai Mahmoud, a pharmacist, told AA when asked about how business was going.

"We sustain heavy losses because we are forced to cut working hours from 24 to only eight," he added.

Head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Ahmed al-Wakil said that efforts are underway to exempt drug stores from the curfew.

The usually bustling streets of downtown Cairo, the commercial heart of the sprawling capital, now fall into a ghostly silence when the clock strikes nine, marking the beginning of the curfew. The curfew originally began at 7pm and authorities only decided a two hours extension as of Saturday.

"Who can believe that we close at 9pm?" a shop owner in downtown Cairo told AA, asking not to be identified for fear of security reprisal.

"We suffer huge losses because of this."

He then bitterly pointed his fingers to the always-busy 26th July Street: "Who can believe this street which is now buzzing with people and shop-goers will become deserted in only three hours from now?"

State services were not immune from the curfew ramifications.

A report by the country's railway authority put losses sustained since the beginning of the curfew on August 14 at 20 million Egyptian pounds (nearly $3 million).

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ağustos 2013, 17:34