UC Davis Professor Attacked by Mubarak Supporters in Egypt

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UC Davis assistant professor of comparative literature Noha Radwan was attacked in Egypt - where she had returned to in order to care for her parents - last Thursday for voicing to international journalists her support for ending President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign.

Radwan returned to Cairo on Jan. 29 and on Feb. 2 was beat up - badly enough that her wounds required stitches - by pro-government supporters after she had given an interview with the international news agency Democracy Now!, whose offices are close to Tahrir Square, the main site of demonstration. The attack came on the ninth day of protests against Mubarak's government.

"Somebody caught on to the fact that I was trying to get into (Tahrir Square) and then they yelled to the mob, 'She's with (the protesters), get her!'" Radwan said in a Feb. 3 interview with Democracy Now!. "Two big guys came and held onto my arms and ... handed me on to a mob that started beating me and pulling my hair. They ripped my shirt off."

In the interview, Radwan said that she needed stitches on her head after the attack, which also left her with numerous scrapes and bruises.

"I underestimated what they were capable of," she said in the interview.

When Radwan left the Democracy Now! office, pro-government supporters surrounded her and asked if she was pro- or anti-Mubarak, according to Sarah Moussa, a representative of the Arab-American community in Sacramento. When Radwan didn't respond and tried to walk away towards the square, the Mubarak supporters ran her down.

"(The attack) dispels the myth that the violence is happening on both sides," Moussa said. "It is definitely one way. Mubarak people are inciting against protesters and journalists alike."

The Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference on Feb. 4 in the state capital, at which Radwan spoke over the phone to condemn the violence in Egypt. State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg and other community members also spoke at the press conference.

"We ... should be inspired by the courage of those in Egypt willing to risk everything for a chance at a better life," said Steinberg at the press conference. "I stand with them in their call for free and fair elections and the right to have a voice in their own destiny and their own futures."

While extreme upheaval is occurring in Cairo, the atmosphere in some rural areas was relatively peaceful, according to Hans Barnard, an assistant adjunct professor in the UCLA Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department and research instructor on the team of UCLA archeologists that was evacuated from Egypt on Feb. 1 more than two weeks ahead of schedule.

The team - which was associated with UCLA's Cotsen Institute for Archeology and included students from UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego - had been conducting a geo-physical survey of the ancient Egyptian king Akhenaten's capital 200 miles south of Cairo. They had planned on leaving the site on Feb. 15 before they were evacuated.

"It is an extremely rural area - daily life is normal," he said. "But the governor's office of that state ... insisted that we leave."

Despite the abrupt removal from the site, Barnard said whatever findings the team had uncovered at the ancient capital would be published and that he plans to return to the site at some point to complete the research.


Jordan Bach-Lombardo covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected]

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