Sentences to Ponder, Egypt Edition

Image Source: Globe and Mail

All from the same Washington Post article:

There is no public data on crimes, and requests for interviews with security officials were not granted, but in Cairo the stories are enough to strike fear….

Since the revolt last winter he’s seen a significant increase in kidnappings and armed carjackings….

“It’s not just lawlessness. It’s a complete lack of security,” said Fadia Abu Shahba, a criminal researcher at the National Center for Social and Criminal Studies. “There was such anger towards the police from the people because the people were attacked. People would curse them and hit them. But they are our children and we need security. Security is one of our most precious rights.”

In her research on carjackings Abu Shahba found that criminals who once used more benign weapons such as small knives and sticks had graduated to machine guns and rifles. She said in 2011 there were more than 40,000 carjackings in Egypt compared with about 4,000 in 2010.

Is security more about perception or reality?

One thought on “Sentences to Ponder, Egypt Edition

  1. This is an excellent question but I’m not sure it leads to any workable conclusions about what should be done regardless of which side we come down on.

    On the one hand, security has to be about genuine threats to a population’s safety. I think that makes sense. On the other hand, we know that crime has been falling in this country for nearly 30 years and yet polls indicate that most people believe that crime rates get worse each year.

    But, just to take one example, we also know that people’s perception of crime correlates to how integrated their neighborhoods are with both white and black percipients “observing” higher levels of crime as the number of blacks in a neighborhood goes up, which is true even when crime does not actually rise. So if we decided that “security” is more about perception than reality, then would we also have to argue for a public policy that “whitens” neighborhoods?

    This is simplistic, I know. And it also suffers from its own “workabality” problems, but it leads me to my point, which is that even if there is a large, even dominant, perception of insecurity, the proper governmental response has to address the real threats to public safety and worry about the perception problem secondarily.

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