Egyptian Ferry Disaster Highlights Deep Issues In Egypt

By now, everyone has read about the sinking of the Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 in the Red Sea, 60 miles away from the port of Safaga.Reuters today had an article on the aftermath of events, and in it was this quote: 

The disaster follows a string of fatal road accidents in recent weeks, a theatre fire last year which killed 46 people and an airline crash in 2004.The ferry disaster has fuelled criticism that Egyptian safety regulations are haphazardly enforced and that not enough has been done to educate the public about the need for safety. "People have developed a culture of playing hide and seek with the authorities when it comes to safety," said Mohamed al-Sayed Said, an analyst at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

I find that this quote sums a lot so concisely. Safety as an ingrained culture is non-existant in Egypt. As an example, seat belts were made mandatory several years ago, but only for the front seats. Child seats are not mandatory. Some taxi drivers tell their clients to just "hold the seat belt over your body" so as not to get fined. Playing "hide and seek" with the government is the way of life as well. Whatever the government says is always viewed with suspicion and rejection. Ways to get around the rules are always sought out.The general public feels that the government is alien, since they are not freely elected, and not representative. They also see the corruption, nepotism, and grip on power by the government, and that adds more to the defiance to anything the government says.So, it is not only about safety. It is about social and political troubles in Egypt ... 

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