Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thinking About my Friends in Dahab

A little less than a month ago, Sierra and I were sitting in the lovely beachside restaurants of Dahab, drinking Egyptian Stella and eating kofta. Yesterday, we arrived in the Zanzibar beach town of Paje to hear a BBC News report that 23 people have been killed and 63 wounded in three separate bombs in the quaint seaside Sinai town that I have come to love. The main blast happened at “Al Capone’s” restaurant, the very first place I ate when I visited Dahab for the first time in 2005. This senseless killing seems completely crazy. The people who live and work in Dahab are some of the nicest I’ve met while traveling and far from political. The tourists there are mostly young people, traveling on the cheap. There is however a US military instillation on the edge of the desert, a stone’s throw from town, that I once walked up to with my hands raised and my US passport held high, so that the M-16 wielding Marine in the tower would recognize me as non-threatening. But, this was a senseless act of terrorism, not an act of war, and those killed were exclusively civilians, the vast majority of them Egyptians.

Since we left, two of the four cities we’ve visited have been bombed, and the influence of terror is highly visible here in Tanzania where the newly built US embassy complex is a huge walled fortress with a surrounding moat. Their fortification is clearly a reaction to the 1998 embassy bombing here in Dar es Salaam. The whole thing starts to paint a rather frightening picture of what the world is becoming. My government is in a bloody quagmire, frighteningly comparable to the beginnings of Vietnam, and the rest of the world is a mess. I guess it always has been, but is there any possibility for change? Redistribution of wealth seems like an important first step. But here in Africa, that’s plainly a fantasy. The so-called “War on Terror” is obviously having the opposite effect.

When I think of my friends in Dahab, and the pain that they’re going through, I feel sick to my stomach. These random acts of violence make no sense at all.


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