A narrow sunbeam peers through the balcony’s glass window at the end of the room, which has been fermented with the smell of old books, brewed coffee, and fresh bakery. The sounds of murmurs and laughter, soft live music in the background, and comfortable couches and chairs create a unique ambience for the place.
Middle East analysts have always pointed to the Iranian Revolution as a means of warning against the rise of political Islam. Events in Iran redrew the geopolitical map in the region. Since the January 25 Revolution, politically active Islamist groups have come out of the woodwork and started campaigning ahead of elections in September. Part and parcel of the democratic process, it is still unclear how much power these groups will wield.
Paid to sweep the dust from the streets of Road 90, lay the sod in gardens surrounding New Cairo’s upscale villas, and collect trash littering the neighborhoods, children working as hired workers have become testament to socio-economic decline and the stigma of illegal child labor in the country..
“I have been working for a year now, I must be a man and help my father bring food for my sisters and sick mother,” Fathi, a minor tasked to sweep the streets for seven hours per day, said.
The 14-year-old is one of 60 workers paid EGP 500 on a monthy basis to work from 8am to 3pm six days a week.
A military court last Tuesday resumed hearing the case brought against AUC workers suspected of stealing antiquities stored under Ewart Hall.
However, the details of the case have not been released to the public.
AUC’s lawyer Karim Abdel Latif confirmed that the suspects are university workers. Although he is on the university’s committee to investigate the thefts, Latif said he had not been informed of last week’s court proceedings.
The sight of flocks of working middle-aged men gathering around the wooden kebda (liver) and sausage carts along the sides of Road 90 might be short lived as the New Cairo City Council have confirmed police will force them to leave as of next week.
The Caravan’s investigation into the recent theft of antiquities has revealed that in a period spanning several decades AUC faculty and officials collected more than 1,600 artifacts described by Egyptology experts to be ‘of no great significance’ in value.
(Six suspects have been arrested in the theft of the antiquities stored below Ewart Hall - click here)
Ironically, the theft of some of these items brought to light the previously unknown cache stored beneath Ewart Hall.
Renowned Egyptologist and professor emeritus Kent R. Weeks told The Caravan that “the objects in Ewart Hall were acquired by then-President Richard Pederson, who for some reason thought it would be nice to have a teaching collection of antiquities on campus.”
Egypt has reacted strongly to reports of a new dam system to be built on the Nile in southern Ethiopia, citing possible negative effects on water supply.
“[This] is a violation of the rights of Sudan and Egypt,” said Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation during an official trip to Khartoum as part of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s diplomatic entourage, the daily Al Ahram reported last week.
Egypt and Sudan agreed that Khartoum will contact Ethiopia to get information about the dams they are building. The minister added that Ethiopia had been building dams without consulting anyone, which is “a way of thinking only about themselves.”
These projects are likely to affect Egypt and Sudan, as they are the last two downstream countries that receive water from the Nile. Ethiopia is one of the main sources of Nile water.
A report released by the People’s Assembly’s Defense and National Security Committee in January cited Cairo’s concerns that Ethiopia had been wooing Sudan to sign the Entebbe Agreement. Egyptian authorities had been concerned that Sudan could be building dams of its own.
As President Lisa Anderson stood on a platform in front of the BEC building to face participants in the first Speaker’s Corner event, an outspoken student’s disdain for the Office of Student Development (OSD) blasted through loudspeakers.
“Students know it as ‘the Office of Student Depression,” the student told Anderson.
The process of investigating and uncovering the extent of State Security’s involvement with AUC, was long and frustrating.
When we interviewed Ashraf Kamal, the head of security on campus, he was extremely friendly initially. But when we began to ask questions he didn’t expect, regarding Hossam El-Hamalawy (also known as 3arabawy), he took a different tone and basically kicked us out, ending the interview abruptly but politely.
A hallmark to the institution’s shroud of secrecy, the piles of shredded, burnt and crumbled documents found in State Security buildings revealed the intricate network of intelligence-gathering that made the much feared apparatus seem almost omnipresent.
Students and the administration continue to debate whether the glass plaque carrying the name of Suzanne Mubarak should be removed, and the hall dedicated to the former first lady renamed.
The plaque stands by the H.E. Suzanne Mubarak Conference Hall in the interior of the HUSS building. Some AUC students such as Omar Omar have petitioned for the removal of the plaque, and have called on administration to becom more transparent regarding their financial situation and funds.
Senior members of the administration, including Vice-President for Student Affairs, Ashraf El-Fiqi, and Senior Advisor to the President Mary Iskander, told The Caravan that AUC has never received any donations or funds directly from former president Hosni Mubarak’s family. Mubarak’s outer circle or government was more likely to have made these donations.
With a closed stock market, and a tourism industry in decline, the January 25 Revolution has produced unintentional economic side-effects leading to the beginning of financial instability for Egypt’s private sector.
In the face of new economic challenges, private companies have resorted to deducting salaries and discharging employees, leaving those still employed fearful for their jobs.
Wielding broomsticks and garbage bags and fueled by their inability to participate in the past weeks’ protests, many Egyptians joined a grassroots initiative to clean up the post-revolution Tahrir Square.
Mahmoud Bondok and Ahmed Alaa are among many AUCians who signed up for the project.