Egyptians are quick to escalate situations; verbally to begin with, but violence is often not far behind. As a nation, Egypt is no stranger to fights; they break out at clubs, on the street, even at weddings. More events than would be considered a reasonable amount will involve some sort of fight either during or after, with varying degrees of seriousness, to the extent that we have almost come to view them as commonplace, a staple of a night out. Shoft el khena2a? Eda la2 bas seme3t enn kan fi wa7da. Kan meen ba2a el beyetkhani2? They've become so ingrained in the way we behave that we are rarely taken aback when one breaks out; it merely turns into post-event conversational fodder.
Drunken fights which break out at clubs are certainly not a phenomenon unique to Egypt and it would be unfair to suggest that; they happen all over the world, especially when you toss alcohol into the mix. But it is perhaps the frequency with which they occur, coupled with the dismissive attitude often displayed in the aftermath that makes them particularly problematic here. And the fact that what little is done to deter them doesn't seem to be working.
But 13 of Egypt's biggest clubs, bars, restaurants, and party organisers just combined efforts and issued a collective 'Blacklist'
- a blanket ban of three to six months on any offenders who partake in physical violence at any of the spots. The long list of venues, which include Cairo Jazz Club, Nacelle, Blurr, and The Tap, will see any individuals who are involved in a situation in one place be banned from all the other venues, in a unified effort to promote a culture of non-violence. The nightspots have also insisted that friends and regulars will not be exempt from the rule.
The importance of this unprecedented move cannot be underestimated as over the years, countless - largely pointless - fights have broken out (Enta betboss 3ala sa7beti? Enta khabbat feyya?) and ended in both material and human damage - direct or collateral, intended or accidental. A few weeks ago, one such fight broke out at a Cairo venue, where *Malak ended up inadvertently caught in the crossfire and subsequently, in the emergency room. Her story is precisely why the newly announced ban on violence is so important right now.
Read it below:
When I put my lipstick on that evening, I had no idea that by the end of the night, the same tint of red would be gushing from my head, down onto my face. This isn’t the first of these stories, and quite likely, it is not going to be the last.
After a rough work week I generally look forward to some relief on the weekend, often in the form of a party, and this weekend was no different. I strapped on my heels and hit up one of Cairo's prominent clubs and twisted and twirled to the music. That was until one member of the male species bumped into another member of the male species and the club turned into a testosterone filled arena.
I ran over to cool down the situation and got in front of this guy and next thing I know he smashed a glass cup onto my head.
The general gist of how it broke out was that we were on the dance floor, and my husband was on his phone texting. He was so immersed on his phone that as he was walking back to our table he bumped into this guy took the run-in super personally and went insane. “Howa feih eh? Faker nafsak meen? So7aby ma3aayaa 3alafikrah." My immediate reaction was to try and break up the argument so I ran over to cool down the situation and got in front of this guy and next thing I know he smashed a glass cup onto my head. He hit me with such intensity that I immediately dropped to the ground.
I don't think anyone actually got hit in this conflict except for me and everything happened to fast and there was such a commotion that I don't think either my husband nor my two friends noticed what happened to me.
As I glanced into the mirror I realised that I was drenched in blood.
Next thing I remember, two girls were holding me up and walking me to the bathroom as something rushed down my face, passed my mouth, and onto the ground. It just kept pouring down heavier and heavier as I got closer to the bathroom. As I glanced into the mirror I realised that I was drenched in blood.
So I was bleeding profusely in the bathroom for what seemed like forever but it was really around 5 minutes. These two strangers (girls) were with me and holding paper towels on my head to try and stop the bleeding. They were trying to keep me calm which was really sweet but when my nose suddenly started bleeding as well, I could see that they were starting to freak out. I guess at that point people in the venue realised something happened to someone and came into the bathroom and found me sitting on the ground covered in blood. The guy who hit me was taken out of the venue with his friends at that point. Little did we know that he was still waiting downstairs wanting to fight.
My husband obviously freaked the hell out when he saw me but realised the priority was to get me to a hospital ASAP. I guess due the the adrenaline I was actually pretty calm and couldn't feel the cut, just a severe headache. I'm not sure if it was a bouncer or a waiter but someone helped me out with my husband as I held the paper towels onto my head. When we got downstairs we found the guy and his friends still out there and he was still cussing and going nuts (even after seeing my blood-covered face). But we had no time to deal with him and got into the car and drove away to the hospital.
The nurse's first question when she saw me was if I had ever had a blood transfusion before, which is obviously a terrifying thing for someone to hear. But luckily they didn't need one. They gave me a bunch of injections to numb the pain and started stitching me up. When I asked them about how many stitches I got they told me I got three layers of stitches from how deep it was but didn't tell me how many stitches in total. I later found out it was around 12. Basically they did their stitching work then gave me an IV with painkillers and I was able to go home. I slept for a total of one hour that night because the scenario just kept running through my head with all the blood everywhere which scared the shit out of me.
Next day I had a proper black eye, but both eyes were extremely swollen - in fact my entire face was swollen. My jaw was a mess; I could only eat soup and smoothies for the next two days. I got an MRI on my head and thankfully everything was okay except for the concussion.
I still have the very last remains of a black eye now and it's been 9 days. I couldn't go into work for 4 days and obviously when I went in I got a million and one questions. I had to avoid seeing my parents for a week because they would not be able to handle what really happened. And today 9 days later I'm going in to get my stitches removed because it took longer than usual to heal because of how deep the cut was.
That was definitely not what I signed up for when I put my heels on that evening, and it is completely unfair that this kind of behaviour is recurring, tolerated and in some cases glorified here in Egypt. If we were anywhere else in the world, actions like this would get the person responsible thrown in jail for assault.
I know who the guy was that hit me but I don't want to mention his name. All I want is for him to get banned. And actually before the news came up of this ban that was how I wanted to deal with the situation. I got in touch with some of the responsible parties to ensure that this guy had a minimum of a 6 month ban from all these places and that that would be the protocol in the future for anyone that pulls this shit, but obviously someone got to it first, which I'm definitely grateful for!
When he realised what happened the next day he tried to contact us to apologise but I refused to talk to him, and still refuse to accept his apology because this was so beyond excusable, and apparently he is known for fighting quite often.
I really hope that several things happen. If your friends are out of control, please help them walk away and my plea is for party ogranisers to unite for the purpose of ensuring the safety of their clients. I was very close to losing my eye and if I wasn't surrounded by incredible help (shoutout to the amazing girls who were by my side) the situation could have been a lot worse. At the end of the day, the most of us just want to dance and have a good time when we go out, so hopefully this new ban means that simple steps will ensure that happens in a safe environment.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy and identity of the individuals.