Sparks of Activist Spirit in Egypt

by Paul Schemm | published April 13, 2002

For a few days in October 2000, near the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, it looked as though Egypt's student movement had finally found its voice again after years of quiescence. Students at Cairo University and other schools demonstrated daily and even clashed with security forces during attempts to march on the Israeli embassy to show their solidarity with the Palestinians. When this movement petered out soon after it began, most observers sympathetic to the student movement shook their heads and lamented the loss of Egypt's activist spirit.

Mediterranean Blues

Facing Environmental Crises

by Zeina al-Hajj
published in MER216

Under pressure to solve immediate economic problems, 
Middle Eastern countries seek to industrialize as 
quickly and as cheaply as possible. While developed countries around the world are very slowly adopting technologies and production methods that exert less pressure on the environment, Western industry at the same time sells its old, polluting technologies to less developed countries at cut-rate prices. Too often, the myopic drive for quick economic gains means that destruction is taken for development and deterioration for progress. Greenpeace and other international and local organizations are combating this mindset on several fronts.

Burning Trash

Egyptian Environmental Activists' Uphill Battle

by Jennifer Bell
published in MER216

In 1990, citizens of Alexandria organized to fight the loss 
of public access to a street in a main downtown square. 
The city had given the street to the World Health Organization for a planned expansion of their local offices. In a landmark case against then-governor Ismail al-Gawsaqi, the citizens’ group, Friends of the Environment and Development-Alexandria (FEDA), argued that city authorities had denied the public’s right to “locational memory” and open space in overcrowded Alexandria. Elderly residents testified in court about their memories of promenades on the street. In a piece of effective political theater, group members sitting in court attached flowers to their lapels and laid flowers on the street outside, to symbolize their mourning of the passing of urban space. The group’s tactics were mocked at first. But in the end, the judge ruled that the allocation of the street for the WHO expansion violated the constitutional principle that “public resources should be used in the public interest.” The WHO announced it would move to Cairo, though the offices are still in Alexandria at present.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.