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Egyptians' sense of safety has plummeted, poll finds

February 23, 2012 |  5:51 pm

A political mural in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Egyptians feel much less safe than they did before the "Arab Spring" uprising, a new Gallup poll has found. Pollsters found the percentage of Egyptians who said they feel safe walking alone at night in their neighborhood dropped to 47% from 82% since the revolution.

The numbers echo what Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan wrote in a recent article for The Times:

Soldiers guard streets but few people feel safe. Police have largely returned to duty after months of work slowdowns, but their presence is sporadic; they appear and disappear at whim. Many Egyptians wonder whether security forces are complacent about or complicit in the mayhem around them, a sense of unease felt by fruit vendors and bankers alike.

"This is an Egypt I do not know," said Tarek Fouad, a sales manager at an international corporation. He said he saw this bewilderment in the faces at the funeral for a relative, who was shot in a January carjacking on the affluent outskirts of Cairo.

Gallup cautioned that the uneasiness doesn't necessarily mean there is more crime. An earlier poll found that Egyptians' sense of safety differed depending on what television stations they watched. The Times reported there are few reliable statistics on how much crime has actually risen in Egypt.

Tunisians and Bahrainis also felt less safe, Gallup found. Like Egyptians, Tunisians pushed out a president. Bahrain has been roiled by protests against its monarch, but he remains in power. Gallup interviewed at least 1,000 people in each country before and after the uprisings:

Safe"Regardless of whether residents' perceptions of safety are accurate or based on real-life experiences, there are serious potential ramifications for each of these countries," Gallup Center for Muslim Studies senior analyst H.A. Hellyer wrote. Tourism could be pinched by concern about safety, Hellyer said. People may be less supportive of reforms if they believe their safety is at risk. And international trade and investment may drop off.

Yemen, unlike Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain, saw only a small drop in perceived safety. Hellyer speculated that feelings about safety didn't change much because people in Yemen felt less safe to begin with.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: An Egyptian woman and her child pose in Cairo for a photo by a combo mural depicting military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on the left half and ousted President Mubarak on the right. Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press