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Who was responsible for the looting during the Cairo uprising?
Since the 25th January, when the Egyptian revolution began, there has been looting across Cairo. This has been reported as perpetrated by the anti-Mubarak rioters.
We spoke to the owner of a shop near Tahrir Square, opposite the Intercontinental Hotel, close to the US embassy who said that his shop had been looted on February 28th, the day before the police disbanded. He told us that his shop was looted, not by rioters, but by the police:
Q. Do you support the Tahrir Square demonstrations?
A. Yes I do, my children have been in the square but I have not. I feel ashamed that older people have not taken action earlier to depose Mubarak. People have been unhappy with the situation for years, but us older people always have excuses for not taking action against the repression. Maybe you are worried for your children, or want to protect your property, or have just got married… It has been the youth who have taken the initiative to do something about it and we are proud of them. Now when they have started all the older generations are coming out in support and join the demonstrators.
Q. What was taken from your shop on the 28th?
A. Leather jackets, silver and gold souvenirs, artwork, carpets – in total the stock was worth 50 000 Egyptian Pounds (LE). The shop is in a total mess now, everything was destroyed.
Q. And who took it?
A. At first I thought it was a normal robbery. Then a journalist who had been staying at the Intercontinental Hotel [just across the road] told me that he had taken photos from his balcony of people breaking into my shop. I looked at the photos and I saw a policeman who I had seen working in the area before. I recognised him.
Q. What was the policeman doing?
A. He was breaking into my shop with the butt of his gun, he was in uniform. It was him who robbed my shop.
Q. Is there anything you can do about it?
A. No I am afraid to do anything.
Q. Do you think the police were involved in other robberies in the area?
A. Yes. The people in the square would not do anything like that. Everyone there is really respectful of each other. I am sure that the police were responsible for other robberies.