Kelsey in Cairo

Kelsey is majoring in English, with a minor in political science, in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. In Spring 2009, she is participating in SMU-in-Cairo in Egypt, where she will be taking courses in political science and Arabic. She hopes the experience will prepare her for a career in international relations or journalism, and she plans to volunteer with a nonprofit while in Egypt.

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Today’s tragedy in Cairo

Editor’s note: The American University in Cairo has confirmed that no SMU or other students at the university were affected by the February 22 incident. SMU student Shelby also shared her thoughts on the event.

I was planning to submit a blog entry today about experiencing aspects of life in Cairo few tourists are exposed to, and a thrilling expedition to the beautiful white and black deserts. But it’s necessary for me now to discuss the bombing that occurred this evening at Khan al-Khalili, a bazaar popular with tourists near downtown Cairo.

Reports are still conflicting, but the general consensus so far is that 17 people have been injured and one person has been killed. My first response was sadness for those who have been affected by this event, and to hope that no AUC students, especially the people I’ve grown so close with in the past month, were at Khan al-Khalili tonight. Facebook status updates and mass text messages have eased this worry, thankfully.

My second reaction was to hope that I wouldn’t be required to suddenly return home, cutting off my semester in Cairo three months short. Although my roommate and I were at Khan al-Khalili only yesterday, unsuccessfully haggling with merchants and drinking tea at the 200 year-old-cafe called Fishawy, neither of us now feels unsafe in Cairo. We were discussing this evening how sad it is that the actions of a few can effect the reputation of an entire city, and moreover, an entire country.

The bomb exploded at an area that is always packed with tourists, but it was also right next to a large mosque, where people were praying at this time. Both Egyptians and foreigners were affected by this attack. The Egyptian police acted quickly enough to be able to diffuse a second bomb before it exploded.

Yes, Egypt is technically in the Middle East, a region associated with near-constant violence, but there hasn’t been an attack in Cairo since 2005. All parts of our world today are vulnerable to this kind of violence, from the US, to Europe, to Asia and everywhere in between. It would be a mistake to judge Egypt harshly in light of today’s bombing, and to suddenly deem it a country where Americans should not travel.

Please keep all those affected by tonight’s attack in your thoughts and prayers, and know that this one act of violence does not define Cairo or Egypt.

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