AUC’s Notable Alumni: Hossam El Hamalawy

Nancy Salem
Staff Reporter

El-Hamalawy: journalist, activist, and photographer - courtesy of arabawy.org

This week’s notable alumni, Hosam El Hamalawy, perhaps better know as 3arabawy, is an Egyptian journalist, blogger, and social activist.

He was a student at the American University in Cairo from 1995 until 1999, when he graduated a BA in economics.

He then continued to start his Master’s degree in the field of comparative politics at the political science department within the same year. He completed the degree in Dec. 2001 with a thesis on 1977 bread uprising in Egypt, and has since worked as a journalist.

In an interview with The Independent, Hamalawy recollects protests that occurred during his time as a student at AUC. The first took place in Dec. 1998 after the bombing of Iraq by the U.S. and the U.K. Protests against the act were taken to the streets and protesters clashed with central security forces.

The next was a protest in 1999 to show solidarity of Lebanon, and another in 2000 to show solidarity with the Palestinians during the Second Intifada.

He commented that he had been observing the recent strikes at AUC and was “proud of the AUC community for standing up for their rights, and for the rights of the workers on campus.”

Although he was unfortunately able to attend only one day of the strike as he was involved with other workers’ strikes occurring throughout Egypt, he nonetheless gives his solidarity and support to the protesters.

One thing that he noticed about the recent protests however was that in comparison with strikes in his time, there was a higher level of participation from the students as well as a more supportive role from the Student Union, unlike the “sabotaging” force they were in the past.

Hamalawy agrees that the recent strikes are in part linked with the overall uprisings that have taken place in Egypt, which are part of a politically charged mood,

“Students and workers are taking the spirit to the campuses and the workplaces,” he explains.

“I can understand the reactions of the students at the moment; the service you’re paying for isn’t the service you’re receiving,” he says about the students’ position in the strike.

On being an AUC alumnus, Hamalawy admits that having the well-known AUC name on your CV is potentially beneficial. However in his case, it did not help him pursue a career in academics at private universities.

He still maintains that his experiences at AUC helped him in many ways, but says we should not exaggerate the university’s status, as many graduates from other Egyptian universities are just as qualified and experienced.

As for his biggest achievements so far, the top of the list is taking part in the current social movement in Egypt, as well as being a source for news about recent events and about the current regime.

He remains hopeful for his vision of a new Egypt as well as his part in shaping the country: “An Egypt where people are ruling with direct democracy.”