Fall 2011











New dean of undergraduate studies appointed, AUC mourns Stephen Everhart, graduate programs expand, Cairo Science and Engineering Festival at AUC, alumnae among 100 most powerful women, Gerhart Center expands outreach program


Mobinil scholarship recipient
Tarek Soliman '11 has made great
strides as a computer programmer

Alumni meet in various countries.

May Khourshed,'11 finds affinity with Egypt after living abroad for many years


Yasmine El Rashidi '97 is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books (NYRB), as well as TIME, Aperture and Bidoun magazines. She has written for numerous publications including Al Ahram Weekly, The Washington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and has served for several years as a staff writer and Middle East correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. El Rashidi graduated from AUC with a bachelor's in journalism and mass communication, and attended postgraduate school at
Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Her newly released e-book, The Battle for Egypt: Dispatches from the Revolution (The New York Review of Books, 2011), chronicles the Egyptian revolution through the eyes of El Rashidi as a journalist, writer and Egyptian citizen.

How was it different writing about the revolution? It was the most extraordinary, exhilarating experience of my life. It was also a great hallenge. In journalism school, we are taught to be objective, to keep ourselves out of the story, to maintain balance. In this case, it was particularly hard to do since the event was so intimate to me. I was trying to absorb it as a writer and journalist, but at the same time, I was experiencing it as an Egyptian who was also revolting. This was my revolution too, and my relationship with my country was transforming through it. The personal stakes were really high, so it was certainly different.

In my dispatches to the NYRB, the "I" is very much present. The pieces were about my own experience, what I was seeing, hearing, and what was happening around me. Did you feel that Egypt was on the brink of change? Absolutely. The minute I entered Tahrir Square at 3 pm on January 25, it was clear something exceptional was happening. I had been in Shubra in a marching protest since the morning, but it was when I got to Tahrir that my breath was really taken away. The square was packed. I had never seen anything like it before. Then on January 28, I knew we had hit the tipping point.
That morning, I went to pray at the

Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque with two friends. I admit I was quite scared. The phones and Internet had been cut, and there were state security police, trucks and informants everywhere. I wasn't sure we would ever make it out of the mosque. The second the prayer ended, the chanting began: "Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Masr, Masr, Masr!" When we walked out, I was absolutely lost for words. The main street was already packed with tens of thousands of people, waving the Egyptian flag, marching, chanting. I knew at that point we had broken a barrier of something. This was the critical mass.
And a few hours later, in a battle on the bridge heading to Tahrir, you could see fear being faced and overcome.

The young men at the front lines were relentless, despite the endless tear gas being used on us. They kept on pushing forward. They were willing to fight, to risk their lives. There was a moment, crossing Al-Galaa Bridge, when the riot police fled, and the young men got up onto the state security trucks and raised the Egyptian flag. It was incredible. "On to Tahrir!" they shouted. That moment, I knew we had already won in a way. Was there a sense that this was coming?
I think many of us felt something beginning to shift before the revolution started.

Last year was something of a brutal one for the country, and by the time the parliamentary elections came round, which were a sham, it was clear that something was about to snap. The parliamentary elections annihilated the opposition, creating for the government its greatest ever cohort of aggrieved politicians. The church bombing enraged both Copts and Muslims. The youth activists were already angry because of Khaled Said and a million other things, and at a grass-roots level, people were struggling to survive. Everyone had had enough, and by early January, when Tunisia went up in flames, it was clear we wanted the same. We were itching to revolt. You could feel it; it was palpable,
in the air of the city. Tension had been mounting. The time was close. Why did you write this book? I had been writing dispatches for NYRB, and the publisher, Rea S. Hederman, decided that it would make a good book –– as a document, or testimony, of a time, place and moment
in history.

In your book, you speak about the strengths and limits of the protest movement. Describe those. I think its strength was uniting people,
and, as a movement that was focused for 18 days, the strength of that focus was incredible –– it toppled a dictator. Its limits, right now, are fragmentation, and at times, an elitist view on some issues. There are protests every other day for something. It seems that the second someone is not happy with something, they go out and strike. That is not constructive. We should use the lesson from Tahrir to mobilize mass sit-ins, but we need to really think about what we are asking for. The backbone of the protest movement was about survival –– being able to feed children and support families. Let's remember what Tahrir, at its core, was really about.

You also address the prospects for change in your book. What change do you wish to see in Egypt? I'd like to see less struggle in the country. When you go out into the informal settlements and beyond, it's heartbreaking. Too large a portion of the population really suffers, just dayto-day they can barely survive. That I wish would change. This country is not poor; we have incredible land resources that could be developed. It needs someone with vision, someone with the interests of the poor in mind, someone who doesn't think of business or themselves. For the rest of us, I wish there was a greater sense of freedom to be who you want, who you are, who you need to be. I think back to stories my grandmother used to tell; it was a different Egypt. Young women could walk in the street with short skirts, and it was okay. Now you are harassed even if you're covered up. I guess things like that are luxuries and maybe even at this point trivialities, but they shouldn't be.
They should be basics. It's all about liberty, dignity and respect. How do you see the road ahead? We have a long way to go; it's not going to be a smooth transition. I don't think that it's the end of clashes, protests, economic woes or sectarian tensions. In many ways, I think it may get worse before it gets better, but in other ways, it is already better. There is something that is slowly unfolding, which is accountability. Within ourselves, there is also a different sense of ownership, engagement, connection and pride to this landscape called home. Something fundamental has shifted within the Egyptian psyche. That's invaluable and shouldn't be forgotten.

By Dalia Al Nimr