Why the silent reaction to Egypt’s Luxor blast?
The absence of sympathy for Egypt and the lack of public outcry boils down to how Egypt presents itself to the international community
A suicide bombing attempt in Luxor has left yet another scar on Egypt’s tourism industry. It is not the first time that particular site has seen attacked, nor is it the first attack on tourism the region has faced this year. But there’s a clear dichotomy as to how the public reacted this week, compared to how it reacted when Bardo Museum in Tunisia was attacked just a couple of months ago. This time, there were no hashtags that erupted on Twitter, there were no public calls to continue to fly to Egypt – none of that. In fact, if the news bulletin hadn’t popped up on my phone, I may have missed the news.
What’s the difference between Tunisia and Egypt?
When the attack at the Bardo Museum took place, Twitter promised to revive Tunisia by using the hashtag ‘Je Suis Bardo.’
The absence of sympathy for Egypt and the lack of public outcry boils down to how Egypt presents itself to the international community; from mass trials that lead to mass executions, to cases seem to be extending time after time on appeals. This makes it increasingly difficult for the public to feel strongly for the Egyptian government’s tourism industry.
The absence of sympathy for Egypt and the lack of public outcry boils down to how Egypt presents itself to the international communityYara al-Wazir
Yet what the world must realize, is that when the tourism industry in Egypt suffers, it is the people who suffer most. The traders on the streets, the donkey farmers who offer you rides, and the taxi drivers that lack the transferrable skills required that would allow them to find employment in an alternative sector.
Although it is important to acknowledge dangerous situations and security threats, when the impact of publicly discussing them is great enough to affect an (already struggling) industry, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that the online community didn’t erupt.
However, the risk is that if the world doesn’t talk about the lack of security and defenses, then the Egyptian government may not take as much action as it should. The scarcityof statements made, by officials and individuals, can make tourists equally wary.
Rejecting the status quo
Tourists and tour guides both seemed to almost reject the status quo and continue with the planned tours. Although reports claim that some tours were cancelled, others went on uninterrupted later in the day. This is baffling; while I understand and respect the tourists for continuing on with their trips, I’m confused as to why the area wasn’t immediately sealed off until more security services were deployed to the area.
In order to get tourists flowing back to Egypt, first and foremost, they need to feel safe. For that to happen, there needs to be reassurance from both the Egyptian government, by increasing security services in the area, as well as support and reassurance from the public. This doesn’t necessarily come in the form of hashtags on Twitter, but acknowledgement is the first step to reassuring travelers that their safety is at the core of Egyptian values.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir