Egyptians recall their plight in Algeria

"What happened to us in Algeria was almost a nightmare. Algerians took our money, threatened our lives and threw stones at us. They forced us to remain in our house without food and the Algerian police refused to protect us. When we demanded our rights, they told us to take them from the Egyptian government," said four Egyptian citizens from the Beheira Governorate, who returned to Egypt after working in Algeria for three years.

These Egyptians were discussing what they experienced days before the latest 2010 World Cup qualifier match between Egypt and Algeria. "We were working in architecture for three years for an Algerian man called Nourieddin, in Tabaza. Before the game began, people began harassing us and insulting us, calling us infidels and Israelis. Things worsened after the Algerian paper Echorouk published news of the attack on the Algerian team in Egypt. At this point, the situation denigrated from insults and death threats, to actual attempts at murder. The situation got even worse when Echorouk published news that Algerians were killed in Cairo," said Walid Mohamed Zaghloul Abdallah, 31, one of the four returning Egyptians.

A second returnee, Mahmoud Masud Abdallah, 30, said, "Three days before the Cairo match between Egypt and Algeria began, I went out to buy some food from the market. Unexpectedly, three Algerians put swords to my side and neck, demanding my money. They took 1000 Euros, as well as my mobile phone, and told me that if they saw me on the street again, they would kill me, because Egyptians are infidels and Israelis. We stayed in our house for two days without food, afraid of going into the street. The threats intensified after Echorouk published doctored photos of Algerian bodies. This further infuriated the Algerians, and we had to leave our residence and escape to a house under construction."

Masud went on to say that even the people they ate with and considered friends turned against them and began to harass them. "When we went out in the street, we faced beatings, insults and death threats. If we looked out the window, we found people threatening to slaughter us. We had to escape from our house after an Algerian clergyman contacted us to tell us that residents were preparing to kill us, and that we should run away," he said.

A third member of the group, Mustapha Abdo Abdallah, 32, said, "The ordeal began in the wake of the match between Algeria and Egypt. We went to our employer and asked him to protect us, and he said, ‘I cannot protect you since you hit the Algerians in your home, after we warmly welcomed you.’ Two days later, the owner returned to the building in a taxi, and said, ‘You have to leave this place immediately.’ We then demanded that he pay us the 18,000 Euros he owed us, but he said, ‘I will give you the money on Sunday following the match, if you are still alive. Let the Egyptian government give you your money.’ We then took the taxi to the Egyptian embassy, but the driver stopped at Haram Square and yelled, ‘They are Egyptian.’ Algerians then pursued us, hurling insults and stones at us."

The four did not discuss details of how they made it back to Egypt following their plight in Algeria.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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