10/21/2011

Egypt: Flight and flights

In post-Mubarak Egypt there are mixed signals. Hope, with a new low-cost airline between there and Geneva, but also despair, with some citizens taking flight because of religious persecution.


Last Wednesday, 19 October, a low-cost airline called Air Arabia Egypt operated flights to and from Geneva from both Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. These appear to be the first Geneva flights for this airline, which was created as a joint venture between the Air Arabia airline (a low cost airline based in the United Arab Emirates) and the Egyptian travel company Travco, and which started operations on 1 June 2010.

The arrival in Geneva of flights of this company means that there are now five airlines serving Egypt. The Egypt national airline flies from Cairo, whilst the holiday resorts of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh are also served via easyJet and Edelweiss (operating with aircraft of Swiss). There are also flights to the resort of Taba, operated by Air Cairo.

Whilst this would appear tobe a positive step, there are disturbing reports of people taking flight from Egypt by reason of harassment. This is particularly true for some members of the Coptic Church there, who are said to have been attacked by troops from the Egyptian army. If true, then this looks like a very disquieting development, especially since the Copts have been in Egypt for a very long time and hardly pose any threat.

In my opinion, freedom of religion is something that should be guaranteed in all civilised countries. Thus, provided that he or she fully respects the laws of the country, a person living there should be allowed to worship in any chosen holy place, even in their own home. I find it greatly disturbing to contemplate any religion which, with state support, treats apostasy as a punishable crime. It would be very regrettable if Egypt should now go down that dark path, especially as Libya now has the possibility of evolving from a dictatorship rule to somethink akin to democracy.

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