|From Cairo Citadel|
During my semester at AUC, any time one of the foreign women had an issue, our instructors would advise us to get an Egyptian male friend to handle it or take an Egyptian man with you to this or that. No matter how large or how small, there solution was to always have an Egyptian man by your side in order to get the desired results. Initially, to be quite honest, I found this frustrating and sexist. Gradually, I realized the blunt wisdom of this advice. I began to realize how differently my interactions with people were just based on having an Egyptian guy (or just Egyptian-looking guy) along. Suddenly the prices of things would be lower, the customer service would be more attentive and polite, and the sexual harrasment that plagues Cairo would be non-existent! People would still stare and whisper but no one would dare say anything to the Egyptian man's face.
I never imagined there would be a point in my life where I'd gladly want a male escort when I go out but that is the case for Islamic Cairo and many of it's tourist attractions. I refuse to go to places in this area-Khan-el Khalili bazaar, the El-Hussein mosque, the Citadel,etc- alone. Some of the worst harrasment and swindling I've faced in Cairo is from people in low socio-economic classes. Islamic Cairo, with all it's historic attractions, is surrounded by government housing turned into slums and people who make a living off the naivety of tourists. I've wanted to visit the sites since I arrived in Cairo but after my experiences near the El-Hussien Mosque and Al-Azhar Park nearby, I try to avoid the area as much as possible. Thus, when my American male friend and Egyptian male friend, Omar, said they'd be visiting the Citadel, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along and have them act as deterrence to anyone who'd think of harassing me.
Behind Muhammad 'Ali's gilded mosque stands the Mosque of al-Nasir Muhammad. This mosque had far less visitors than the first and looked much more subdued. The attendant there desribed for us the workmanship in each distinct column and minaret. The conquering Ottomans carried much of the original interior decoration off to Istanbul, but the space is nevertheless impressive.