06-26-2005, 12:40 AM #1
USA shouldve went to egypt not iraq...
Red lines blurred
A Human Rights Watch report highlighting the lack of academic freedom at Egyptian universities seems to have rubbed everyone the wrong way. Gihan Shahine reports
Washington-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed both the Egyptian government and the nation's Islamists for impinging on academic freedom in universities. Official reaction was swift, with Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Amr Salama calling the HRW report "exaggerated". Claiming there were no curbs on academic freedom, the minister said the violations reported by the rights group were no more than "individual incidents".
Many academics were equally quick to confirm the report's conclusions, saying the government clampdown on academic liberties was even "bleaker" than the way it was portrayed by HRW.
Making matters more complicated, some of those critical of the report accused HRW of having a hidden agenda; the group's claims regarding an Islamist grip on academic life was "overblown", they said.
The 107-page report, issued on 9 June, said academic freedom was being st***ed by a double-barreled onslaught of government and Islamist repression, resulting in an environment of severe "self-censorship". Titled Reading Between the 'Red Lines': The Repression of Academic Freedom in Egyptian Universities, the report highlights a host of government restrictions on classroom discussions, research projects, student activities, campus demonstrations and university governance. It says course books are censored, research about controversial issues is banned, and student activists are subject to constant intimidation from the authorities.
"Persistent violation" of academic freedom has "badly undermined Egypt's standing as the educational leader of the Arab world," said HRW Deputy Middle East Director Joe Stork. Curbs on academic freedom, according to the report, have created a stagnant educational environment where universities are no longer the centres of creative thinking, and academics feel disinclined to cross numerous "red lines" -- mainly involving issues that deal with sex, politics and religion -- in public discussions and academic research.
"One key role of a university is to provide a forum for high-level debate on controversial topics," Stork said. State-appointed deans, however, "interfere with class discussions and the selection of research topics". There was almost a consensus among academics, for example, about "criticism of President Mubarak and his family [being] completely off limits".
With sex-related topics, repression did not appear limited to government- affiliated institutions. The report cited the case of an American University in Cairo (AUC) professor who got into trouble with parents after assigning students an autobiography of Moroccan writer Mohamed Choukri, which includes homoerotic scenes. The problems "are compounded in many areas of campus life by intimidation from Islamist militants, which the government does little to prevent", the report said.
Laws also impinge on campus affairs. One statute, for instance, stipulates that all imported printed material, including course books, be reviewed by the censor's office. According to the report, that means professors may be prevented from teaching a certain classic text, for instance, just because it touches on a sexual topic.
Academic research fares no better under a law requiring researchers who want to conduct public surveys to first seek out permission from the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS). Obtaining permission is, at best, a drawn-out process which may very well end up with CAPMAS never replying, refusing without providing a reason why, or simply changing the planned questionnaire.
The report cites a case where police arrested two AUC students for conducting public interviews without obtaining permission from CAPMAS. It also highlights the legal woes suffered by AUC professor Saadeddin Ibrahim -- who was imprisoned after conducting research on democratisation and the role of civil society -- as yet another violation of academic freedom.
A heavy police presence on campus, combined with constant interference by security personnel in university matters, form the basis of the worst sorts of academic violations. The report describes the way state security forces intimidate students and professors who happen to be activists as well. Activists who run for student union positions and demonstrate on campus, Stork said, are often "detained, and sometimes abused
The reports cites "plainclothes members of the state security forces [who] roam campuses to stop spontaneous expression, such as [making] speeches or [putting up] posters. The police also hire or coerce students into spying on each other." Members of a student club -- the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)-linked Horus, with branches in all the major universities -- are "notorious for intimidating their fellow students".
Islamists on campus find themselves in a somewhat complex situation. The report concedes that Islamists have traditionally been targeted for arbitrary arrests, long periods of detention and harsh punishments for peaceful expression of political views. It cited the case of a Cairo University student who was arrested, blindfolded and tortured for two days for having allegedly complained that police blocked Islamist students from voting in the student union elections.
But although "Islamist militants are often at odds with government authorities, and the target of crackdowns themselves", Stock said, they also "exert restrictive influence on university campuses". According to the report, Islamists verbally, legally and physically attack academics to deter them from researching controversial religious and moral topics. The rights group also claimed that, "Islamist students at national universities often harass liberal female classmates for not wearing the niqab, a full veil," and that "non-Muslims are also victims of this discrimination." Despite the government crackdown on Islamists, the report also deplored, "the state's failure to protect academic freedom" from the Islamists themselves.
"The report is not strictly accurate or well-researched, and is generally out of focus," said Cairo University associate engineering professor Ahmed El-Ehwani, a leftist member of the 9 March university reform movement. El-Ehwani said HRW depended on interviews and press reports rather than comprehensive documentation. According to El-Ehwani, there was no documented incident, for instance, of Islamist students "harassing liberal female students to wear the niqab ".
Helwan University geology professor Yehia El-Qazzaz said the report's claims of an Islamist stranglehold over university affairs was "overblown". "The report contradicts itself here," said El-Qazzaz, who is a member of both the 9 March and Kifaya reform movements. With Islamists being on the receiving end of the government's severest blows, El-Qazzaz asked, how can they "exert any influence on campus, when they can't even protect themselves?" Although El-Qazzaz himself totally disagrees with Islamist views, he was aware that, "there are always those who tend to blame Islamists for all the problems."
Other academics had issue with some of the report's classifications. Censorship, they said, is a national, rather than an academic, problem. Other critics told the Weekly that the report's reference to Saadeddin Ibrahim's case was off-point, since his persecution was a violation of political, not academic, rights. Everybody seemed to disagree with the report's view that boycotting Israel infringed on academic freedom.
El-Qazzaz also had a problem with the report's overall context. "Egyptian society is itself deeply rooted in a conservative culture which rejects obscenity; even in more developed countries like England, where I lived for five years, university campuses are not considered a venue where sensitive issues like sex and religion are discussed."
Nonetheless, some, like English literature professor Abdel-Aziz Hammouda, said the overall religious atmosphere in Egypt had become over- sensitised. He recounted two separate incidents where "voices rose" against him for teaching a play and a novel "wherein, at one point, the protagonists became prostitutes for a while". Hammouda told the Weekly that "today, you cannot even think of teaching texts like these." Those who complained, he said, were not even extreme-leaning Islamists, "but voices in mass media that unintelligently fell into the extremism trap". He blamed late President Anwar El-Sadat for allowing the Islamist movement to gain a grip on campuses in a bid to undermine Nasserist and Socialist activism.
Cairo University assistant mathematics professor Layla Sweif -- who agreed with the report's general condemnation of curbs on academic freedom -- said, if anything, HRW should have focussed on university self-governance as well. "University independence is a prerequisite for any other academic liberty," she said, and "state security interference in university affairs has gone beyond any and all limits."
06-26-2005, 08:17 AM #2
sounds shitty to be at a university over there
06-26-2005, 08:20 AM #3Originally Posted by johan
06-26-2005, 03:39 PM #4Originally Posted by IronFreakX
06-26-2005, 04:30 PM #5
LOL IronFreak is from the middle-east - and I havent seen any postive posts from you ever!
06-26-2005, 08:55 PM #6Originally Posted by GQ-Bouncer
06-26-2005, 10:07 PM #7Member
- Join Date
- May 2005
IronFreak, why don't you and the neo-cons mind your own f***ing business and we'll all get along in the world, I could give a shit what they do in a Cairo University, thats their f***ing problem and they can free their f***ing selves; the reason America was attacked on 9/11 is because the govt interferes in other countries.
Last edited by eliteforce; 06-26-2005 at 10:15 PM.
06-26-2005, 10:18 PM #8
US......we need to just stay the hell out of other countries......very simple way of acting.
06-26-2005, 10:30 PM #9Originally Posted by eliteforce
Mind your own business. If Muslims want regime change, they should do it themselves. If we want more freedom, we should do it ourselves, if we want better economic changes we should do it ourselves.
06-26-2005, 10:31 PM #10
How would you like it if an annoying neighbour told you how to live your life, and told you what to do. And if you did something they would call the police on you all the time.
Anyone would be mad. And probably punch the neighbour in the face.
06-26-2005, 10:35 PM #11Originally Posted by Badgerman
06-26-2005, 10:50 PM #12
iron u have so much hatred man
u need to take it easy
theres enough hatred or negativety in the world we dont need more :/
06-26-2005, 11:08 PM #13New Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2003
Talk about not being able to entertain a thought ... ! Look IronFreak I hear ya ... If the oil was in Eqypt we'd found a way to go there ... One step at a time !!!
06-27-2005, 12:11 AM #14
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- In The Kitchen :)
- Blog Entries
hahahah i'm so happy, i've been trying to get people's attention here towards his offensive posts last week.
finally he got something
06-27-2005, 12:42 AM #15Originally Posted by eliteforce
Last edited by IronFreakX; 06-27-2005 at 12:46 AM.
06-27-2005, 12:47 AM #16Originally Posted by CAUSASIAN
06-27-2005, 12:52 AM #17Originally Posted by smokethedays
06-27-2005, 01:19 AM #18
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- In The Kitchen :)
- Blog Entries
u r really a "FREAK"
06-27-2005, 01:27 AM #19Originally Posted by smokethedays
Users Browsing this Thread
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)