Saturday, March 31, 2012

Religion at AUC, Now and Then

LEAD-IN: In the Egyptian society religion plays an important role that is even increasing day after the other, but is the American University in Cairo witnessing the same changes?
AUC Plaza, Captured by: Mariam Rizk

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Religion has always been an important dimension in the Egyptian society. Recently in the past few decades, Egyptians are even more concerned with religion. Religious identity is shown with the increased number of veiled girls and bearded men. Dalia El Rasheedi, an A-U-C alumna who graduated 1987 discusses the difference between the way religion was perceived at her days and

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EL RASHEEDI: “I can definitely say that religion was more in the heart, practicing religion was a personal thing, nobody judged anybody else by whether or not they prayed in groups, nobody thought anybody was less or more worthy because of the way they dressed or because they went to pray in a mosque or at a church” (:35)

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With the old regime being over- thrown, many groups that were oppressed in the old regime started finding their way to the public and political community. Islamists as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists were among these groups. With the Islamists winning 75 percent of the parliament seats in the last elections, growing support for these groups becomes a valid suggestion.
But will these Islamists reflect their affiliations on the American University in Cairo; the University that has always claimed to be liberal but at the same time an active part of the Egyptian society?
Mr. Sayed Omar, Captured by: Mariam rizk
A-U-C’s old constitution banned forming a club on a religious or political basis. According to Mr. Sayed Omar, Student Organization Specialist at the office of Student Development at A-U-C, this policy was the main reason that A-U-C didn’t have announced religious groups in the past.
However, this is not the case within the new constitution that allowed more freedom of speech and allowed inviting rather controversial people as Muslim Brotherhood prominent figure, Khairat el Shater.

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OMAR: “According to the new freedom of speech, there is not any kind of rejection to start this kind of organization…as a student you’ll be responsible for this kind of activities, any group, any students, any staff or faculty can invite any people on campus” (:30)
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Yet Omar suggests that A-U-C students are still not interested enough in politics or religion to form such groups or to embody a reflection to the rise in Islamists in Egypt.
These will remain speculations until there is evidence of the first public religious group on the liberal   campus.

Mariam Rizk, A-U-C news.
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Sound bite from interview with Mr.Sayed Omar
Sound bite from, interview conducted by Lara El Gibaly with Dalia El Rasheedi
Music: 1-Desertology II by Sahara Band

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