Oriental Hall, etc.

Happenings, speakers, and events at the American University in Cairo in Spring 2016.

Freedom of expression in Egypt has never been worse, asserted Egyptian investigative journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat during a recent lecture organized by the student-run AUC Times magazine. “Although I was very optimistic toward journalism practices during the early days of the Egyptian revolution, the situation now is not encouraging,” he said. As a result of the dangers journalists face, they have begun to practice self-censorship, Bahgat warned, leading them to ignore important stories in favor of covering safer topics. Bahgat recalled how he received an outpouring of international and domestic support when Egyptian military forces detained him in November 2015. “This kind of support should be given to all journalists who are in jail or are facing danger because of their work,” he said.

“Academic freedom is a communal action,” Steven Salaita, Edward W. Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut, argued in a March talk hosted by AUC’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. Salaita noted that he bears the “mark of a radical” and is “unemployable” in the United States after he posted anti-Israel tweets in 2014. The colonizer, Salaita explained, experiences a state of constant anxiety of existence, especially when challenged by divergent opinions, and it is necessary for academics to launch these challenges.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. has been named the twelfth president of the American University in Cairo. Previously, Ricciardone was vice president and director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council. In addition to his posting in Egypt (2005–2008), he served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey (2011–2014) and the Philippines and Palau (2002–2005).

Photojournalist and AUC trustee Mary Cross died in February 2016. Cross published the photographic books Egypt; Behind the Great Wall: A Photographic Essay on China, with Theodore Cross; Morocco: Sahara to the Sea; Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth, with Frances FitzGerald; and Sacred Spaces: Turkish Mosques & Tombs.