Inauguration, Abduction, and AUC

Last weekend was the inauguration at AUC to celebrate the opening of the new campus location. Apparently, the security was intense as Lady Mubarak attended the event, with students living in the new campus denied leaving their dorm for about 12 hours. There was a zone set up where you would actually get shot if found around the area. No cell phones were allowed, among other things. My friend that lived on campus told us this in my political science class as she bitterly repeated her meal for the day which was stale chips.

Another happeneing that has been largely avoided by the administration is the abduction of an American Graduate student,Phil Rizk. He was abducted by the Egyptian State Security just the night before after attending a march in solidarity with Palestine.No information has been given but I learned from reading other blogs and students that his host family has been searched by the government and nothingis released about his status.Here is an open letter to be presented to the Board of Trustees by a group on campus:

February 7, 2009

To the Members of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Cairo:

We are writing this letter to you to express the profound concern of AUC students and faculty regarding a clear breach of the human rights of an AUC student by the Egyptian authorities.

On 6 February 2009, Philip Rizk, a Masters student in Middle East Studies at the AUC, was returning to Cairo from a peaceful march in Qalyoubia (north of Cairo) in solidarity with Palestinians. Although none of his actions were violent or illegal, Philip was detained by police along with other participants in the march at around 5pm and brought to a police station some four hours later. There, state security agents singled Philip out for questioning and around 11pm, abducted him through a side door and drove him to an undisclosed location.

Knowledge of these events spread rapidly through the AUC community, and students and faculty joined Philip’s other friends and family to hold a protest at the High Court in the early afternoon of February 7th demanding his immediate release. Philip’s parents and lawyers were permitted to enter the court after extensive negotiations, but learned nothing of his whereabouts. Following that, a large group of students and faculty went to the state security compound at Roughly near Tahrir Square. A delegation expressed its concern for Philip and inquired as to where he was being held, but received no response from Egyptian authorities. On February 8th, a gathering will be held at 12:30pm in HUSS plaza on AUC’s new campus to show solidarity for Philip, and we ask that you demonstrate your support in the following ways:

• Remain apprised of the situation.
• Use your good offices and contacts to secure AUC student Philip Rizk’s immediate release.
• Work to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.
• Publicly reaffirm your commitment to complete freedom of association and expression for all AUC students and faculty.

Yours sincerely,
Concerned Students and Faculty of the American University in Cairo

I learned about this on Sunday when I was at the library and this guy was passing around fliers that read “Where is Phil?” with a photo of him. I did not give it a look until I actually found out what happened- I mean, how often does the government kidnap someone who attends your school? There was a small protest on campus that day too.

After I told my parents this, I got an email from my dad to register with the embassy and a warning from my mom to not talk to anyone. I assured them I was not remotely controversial in my two weeks here in Cairo.

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