Bulls-eye say Egyptians as they celebrate anti-US attacks By Lamia Radi CAIRO
STORY WAS CENSORED FROM THIS WEEK'S EDITION
Egyptian students, taxi drivers and shopkeepers crowded round television sets stacked up in electrical store windows in downtown Cairo September 11, celebrating a string of elaborate attacks on New York and Washington.
"Bullseye," commented two taxi drivers as they watched footage of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York shrouded in plumes of smoke after two presumably hijacked planes slammed into them earlier in the day.
Another Egyptian man, Gawish Abdel Karim, told AFP he was pleased with the wave of violence in which another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, the heart of the U.S. Defense establishment.
"Nice work," said Abdel Karim, who drives a car for an Asian embassy.
"The Americans have forgotten that God exists. They have us by the throat and now they find themselves in a science fiction film scenario, but this time Rambo's not there to save the White House."
Anti-US sentiment has mushroomed on the streets of Egypt and other Arab countries over its widely perceived support for Israel over the Palestinians in the past 11 months of violence in the Middle East.
As with other US facilities around the world, workers at US government offices and Egyptian citizens were taking security precautions, with only "non-essential" operations set to be covered on Wednesday.
However, US officials said there had been no credible or specific threat against US citizens or interests here.
Abdel Karim hailed the attacks as "the best thing that's happened since the October War," referring to the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war when Egyptian forces made a surprise attack on the Israeli army across the Suez Canal.
"Mabrouk! Mabrouk! (congratulations)", shouted a crowd of people huddled round the shop window.
Egypt, considered one of the "moderate" countries in the Middle East, is one of the United States' strongest allies in the region, being the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
But people on the streets do not necessarily see themselves as US allies.
"The Americans are cowards. They use other countries to hit us. They don't have the courage to meet us face to face," said Khalil Matar, 43, who works in a state-run soap factory. "The myth of the indestructible United States has gone up in smoke."
Polytechnic student Amira Ryad also vented her anger.
"We saw the tower crash down," she said, referring to one of the two towers of the World Trade Center, both of which were razed by the attack.
"I only wish (US President) George Bush and his dear little baby (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon had been buried in there too," she added.
Fellow student Murad went as far as speculating that the United States was behind the attacks, "to find an excuse for the National Missile Defense system" that Bush wants to deploy to protect the United States from so-called rogue states, despite widespread global opposition.
"Those people are capable of killing their own people to prove they're right," he said.
Egyptian President Hosni "Mubarak should know that the people can no longer be humiliated, but of course he'll never declare war" on Israel, the student said.
Another taxi driver said he was going to make special prayers to thank him for the attacks against the US.