Universiteiten na de revolutie
Ahmed Maher experienced the street protests on the Tahrir Squarefirst hand from the beginning of January, ultimately leadingto the ousting of Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak. What did heexperience, what are his dreams and perspectives?
During the parliamentary elections in 2010, Mubarak’s NationalDemocratic Party had miraculously won 95% of all contestedseats.”Honestly, I was not really surprised about the anger of thepeople. These elections were obviously a fraud. People were alsolacking food and good education. The social gap had widened moreand more in the past couple of years and the middle classdisappeared. Still I was surprised by the radical change that thewhole regime actually went down,” said Ahmed Maher.
A Twitter Spring?
In this context, social media did not play the biggest role tohim, despite Western media depicting the Arab Spring as a Twitteror Facebook revolution. Rather it was about the people “with lovefor their country and the awareness that it needed change”. Inaddition to that, there was a lack of security forces on thestreet, so people could gather on Tahrir Square.
What happened there, was a novelty to many Egyptians. Peoplewould set up their tents protesting peacefully and “talking aboutthe future of their community and democracy”. This is also thespirit that Maher wants to support with the creation of hisnewspaper “Midan Masr” (Egypt Square).
“It is important we give the people an opportunity to speak. Itdoes not matter what political opinion they have even if they arefrom the Muslim Brotherhood. We give anybody who has an opinion andcares about Egypt a way to speak up.”
This however can be often difficult. “The middle class hasdisappeared. Many poor people do not care about these changes. Theyonly say ’the revolution didn’t bring us food’.”
New university leaders
The new interim government, in the meantime, keeps pushing forchange in the Egyptian university landscape. Recently, it approveda draft law that all college deans and heads of public universitieswould get fired.
This move came as a response to earlier protests by faculty andstudents who said that deans, chairpersons of departments and otheruniversity leaders had simply been selected based on their loyaltyto Mubarak.
Moustafa Kamal, Provost of the public University of Assiut,bashed such statements asking: “How come incumbent heads ofuniversities are dismissed, allegedly because they belong to theregime of former President Hosni Mubarak? There are officials whoserved in the Mubarak era still working in other stateinstitutions.”
The revolutionary movement as a whole is further criticized in aprotest note university leaders sent to the military government.There it said that “this law constitutes an insult to universityleaders who did their best to protect these institutions during andafter the revolution from outlaws.”
To Ahmed Maher the transformation from autocracy towardsdemocracy in universities is something very desirable. “Finally,free student elections can be held. Before, the governmentconstantly had police at universities to make sure students do notspeak up against Mubarak.”
Interested in reading more about the state of highereducation in the Arab World? Click
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