Oriental Hall, etc.

Happenings, speakers and events at the American University in Cairo from Fall 2011.

Yousri Fouda, one of the Arab world’s distinguished journalists, reported on the September 11, 2001, attacks and later landed exclusive interviews with two of its masterminds, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, prior to their capture in Pakistan and detention by U.S. authorities. Speaking at AUC on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, he argued that the Western media inflated Osama bin Laden. “This plot,” Fouda says, “needed someone to pull it together when the smallest things could have foiled it. A perfectionist, really.” That man, he maintains, wasMohammed Atta, the Egyptian ringleader of the hijackers who piloted one of the aircraft into New York’s World Trade Center. Fouda, host of the public affairs program “Last Word” on Egypt’s ON TV channel, believes that with the Arab Spring it is time for the West to see Arabs in a context other than Islamic militancy. “Now there is a chance to do something about the relationship with the West,” he says. “When this started in Tunisia and in Egypt, it really was such a slap in the face to our friends in the West, to the Orientalists, that this could happen without the banners ‘Islam is the solution’. This is a new decade we are walking into, after this decade of Bin Laden.”

If Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces makes way for democracy, will it stay out of politics? Yezid Sayigh, a senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, believes that much will depend on the national debate. “Like what happened in Turkey, if the pace of public discourse quickens, the military will realize that the old system and its opacity won’t work anymore,” says Sayigh, who spoke at an AUC conference on “The Future of Civil-Military Relations In Egypt” on October 16. An alternative scenario, he says, is the type of political kingmaker role that the military maintains in Algeria. “If the process here is muddy or things become polarized, and people start turning again to the army as their savior, to provide order in the streets, the army, without having to formalize powers, will continue.”

Stephen Everhart believed in the power of people–including business people. As the associate dean for undergraduate studies and administration in AUC’s School of Business, he nurtured business leaders across the Middle East. On June 23, while developing entrepreneurship education for Iraqi university schools of business and commerce, Everhart was tragically killed in a roadside bomb explosion in Baghdad. “He was a tireless and unwavering enthusiast for the work of his students and colleagues,” AUC President Lisa Anderson said at a campus memorial service on September 27. “He knew–he just knew–that they would change the world, and that they would bring financial acumen and sustainability and prosperity to Egypt and the region.”