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« Overview from Cairo | Main | Absolutely brilliant and penetrating interview by David Brommer »
Sunday
Feb062011

Note from a friend in Cairo

 

Mubarak Thugs Target Cairo Scholars Listserv

If you are an American student or scholar working in Egypt, you likely heard about Cairo Scholars by word of mouth or google search before your arrival . It’s often dubbed the “Craigslist of Cairo” and upon landing you might have consulted this listserv to find an apartment, roommate, daycare, or Arabic lessons in your adoptive city.

 

On Wednesday, February 2, pro-Mubarak thugs came out to the streets of Cairo, but also took to the internet to intimidate foreign students and scholars on Cairo Scholars accusing them of being “f’n traitors” and “agents of the Americans” who “want to set the whole country on fire.” One pro-Mubarak loyalist threatened: “u have been reported.”

 

Since Wednesday, Cairo Scholars members have reported dozens of incidents of foreigners being arrested or detained for questioning by pro-Mubarak police and state security. This harassment is state-sponsored and constitutes a direct assault on cultural diplomacy and academic exchange with the people of Egypt. This pattern of intimidation includes that of journalists, whose prime offense is connecting Egypt to the outside world.

Unlike Craigslist though, Cairo Scholars’ express purpose is to support specifically students and scholars abroad doing the work of cultural exchange and person-to-person diplomacy. For that reasons, the list has a closed membership in order to promote a sense of community and relative trust among students and scholars abroad, who need to depend on each other for daily needs.


These threats come at a time of crisis, when information flow is essential for students and scholars abroad to make informed decisions about where to get food and provisions, how to cope and whether to stay in Egypt or uproot themselves.
 
For more information about Cairo Scholars and the state of its members, please contact Prof. Samer Ali, Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin, email: <saali@mail.utexas.edu>.

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