Enactment of citizens arrest deals blow to Egyptian tourism

Ahram Online, Dalia Farouk, Monday 11 Mar 2013

Egypt's prosecutor-general empowers citizens to make arrests, but a tourism coalition warns this will leave tourists vulnerable

Empty beach in the Red Sea resort town of El-Gouna (Photo: Aida Mansour)

Egypt's Coalition to Support Tourism (CST) condemns the prosecutor-general's decision to allow citizens' arrests announced on Sunday, arguing it raises many worries among tourists.

Many tourism agents called the head of the CST, Ehab Moussa in alarm. He told Ahram Online that they wanted to confirm the rumour over what they feel is a strange decision.

The "judiciary policing" (the direct translation for the criminal law) will allow any citizen to arrest someone committing a crime.

Moussa claims that tourists would then be mistreated and blackmailed in Egypt.

"If a tourist rebuffed an Egyptian merchant, refusing to buy something, the merchant might accuse the tourist of spying and arrest him," he said.

Several political powers criticised the decision, expecting that it could lead to a civil war in Egypt if citizens are given the right to arrest each other.

Only Islamist political powers, represented by the Freedom and Justice Party and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, welcomed the decision as an attempt to curb the security deterioration in the country.

Egypt has fallen to the lowest rank out of 140 countries in terms of safety and security, just behind Pakistan, Chad and Yemen, in the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Travel and Tourism (T&T) competitiveness index released last week.

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