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 Kelsey also shared her thoughts on the event.
Today was a scary day in Cairo as the famed Egyptian Bazaar I wrote about three weeks ago was the site of a terrorist bombing. It happened in the evening today as I was sitting at my computer doing my homework for tomorrow.
My friends came into my room telling me that Khan el Khalili had just been bombed. Assuming they were making a horrible joke – as they are often the pranksters in my dorm, rearranging my furniture when I leave the room or freezing my roommates’ keys – I didn’t believe them at first. However, I looked it up online and I saw the news reports posted only minutes ago. As we waited and kept checking other sites, the news hit big news sources: CNN, the BBC and the New York Times.
I started recieving phone calls from many of my friends here, making sure that I was not at the Khan today. We called our friends who had gone out to dinner to account for their safety. Later we learned one of my guy friends was there right before the bomb went off! I was actually there on Friday, and I have been multiple times to buy touristy items such as scarves and papyrus art. Any of us could have been there that day and could have been the subject of this attack simply by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
At this time, I have limited information on the event, as many news sources are contradictory. From what I understand, the bomb was thrown into the open area in the front of the Khan where there are many restaurants across from a small grassy knoll. Only one of two or three bombs went off, and while I am writing, officials are working on detonating the others.
More than 20 people have been injured and one is dead. Many of the victims are French, but it is unsure at this time whether the terrorists aimed for this nationality, whether they were aiming for tourists in general, or whether this was a random public act. Khan el Khalili has been the site of a prior terrorist attack. In 2005, a similar event happened, killing two and wounding 18. My heart goes out to all who were affected by this terrible act.
The International Student Office on AUC’s campus contacted me on my cell phone, asking me if I was all right, and the RA in the dorm went room to room to find out whether we were all ok. While we all sit gathered in our rooms, calling our concerned parents and calmly assuring them that we are, in fact, fine, the subject comes up, will we have to evacuate? What will happen next?
However, right now we understand this as an unfortunate random attack, not directed at anyone in particular. As such, there is no reason we should not just continue on with our daily lives here. Now we continue on, going to school, traveling and living in Cairo, except we must remain ever more aware and cautious of our surroundings, as they can change abruptly at any time.