Crown Center Summer Travel & Study Grants

The Crown Center announces the availability of summer travel and study grants for eligible undergraduate students.

The Grant May Cover:

  • Research expenses – such as travel, room and board, and photocopying.
  • Study at a foreign institution.
  • Tuition fees for a relevant Middle Eastern language program.

Current first years, sophomores, juniors, and seniors graduating in December 2011 are eligible.

Any field of study may be considered but the research must be related to the Middle East.

The maximum grant award is $2,000.  Applications are due April 1, 2011.

For more details and application information visit:

An Inner Perspective

By Khalil Azouz

On the morning of the 14th, people started pouring into Bourguiba avenue in Tunis. Most of them were in front of the Ministry of Interior, the authority that presides over the country’s police. Here’s one of the key moments during the protest, a video that still gives me chills:

They are saying “Dégage” in unison. Dégage is a French word for “get lost.” They even used this word in Egypt even though they are not French speakers. A few hours after this, it was announced that the president stepped down.

Unfortunately, in the days leading up to this event and during the week following it, a sense of insecurity was prevalent throughout the country. Indeed, The Family ordered the release of thousands of prisoners who were instructed to loot and terrorize. Add to that the 3,000 strong presidential police force, some of whom were caught with sniper rifles. Presumably, they were hoping to cause chaos and possibly return to “save” the country. We never stopped to be reminded the extent of these people’s inhumanity. The army played a huge role in reinsuring security. People also formed neighborhood protection committees against these looters. A lot of the arrests were actually made by normal people who handed the thugs over to the army or what is left of the police. After about a week of insecurity, during which very few deaths were reported – most of the casualties occurred during the weeks leading to the 14th (over 200 deaths, 72 in prison riots) – things started to feel more normal. Continue reading “An Inner Perspective”

Egypt and Global Freedom

By: Siddharth Joshi

[Edit: After a struggle much longer than Tunisia’s, the Egyptian people were finally rewarded as Hosni Mubarak stepped down, leaving the Army in charge until democratic elections can take place. The place to be on the 11th of February was definitely Tahrir Square, so fittingly named. Tahrir translates to ‘Liberation’ and I think this so beautifully captures the essence of what transpired on that day. The future is still uncertain, and by no means is the Egyptian revolution successfully complete, but it has taken a step that was unimaginable a year ago. Even though Tahrir Square is in Cairo, this feeling of liberation has spread far beyond the borders of Tunisia and Egypt. I had previously mentioned Jordan and Yemen, but the biggest protests of the day were seen in Tehran and Bahrain. Apparently, the internet has been shut down in Algeria, but we have learned from Egypt that it is no simple task to stop this call for freedom and liberty.]

Whether we are concerned with suffering born of poverty, with denial of freedom, with armed conflict, or with a reckless attitude to the natural environment everywhere, we should not view these events in isolation. Eventually their repercussions are felt by all of us. We, therefore, need effective international action to address these global issues from the perspective of the oneness of humanity, and from a profound understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of today’s world.

– His Holiness the Dalai Lama

It has been well known for some time now that world we live in is shrinking, I am sure that each and every one of us has experienced the effect of the unstoppable force of globalization. The IGS major, unique to Brandeis, is an acknowledgment of this force; we describe it as “an interdisciplinary program that provides students with an opportunity to understand the complex processes of globalization that have so profoundly affected politics, economics, culture, society, the environment, and many other facets of our lives.”

It is no longer important but simply necessary to take into account the changes that our world has undergone, and understand that we face the future together. It is important that our generation grows up as global citizens and deals with the many issues that will need to be contended with. We can act, in our own capacities, but at the same time we must take advantage of the opportunity of being at a place of learning as prestigious and full of potential knowledge as Brandeis is. It is important to fully understand this process before we leave for the real world to find our way and to the best of our ability, improve the world we enter.

This blog is an attempt to help comprehend globalization through reflection, conversation and insight from people who are closer to situations around the world, providing us with, hopefully, an array of perspectives with which to better understand events that will shape our future. Continue reading “Egypt and Global Freedom”

Keystroke Revolution Updates

by Mark Grinberg

Some updates on Egypt + Tunisia:

  1. Ha’aretz reports: One of the many kidnapped by the Mubarak regime was Google employee Wael Ghonim. He has been released and now claims responsibility for the original Facebook page that ignited all of the protests.
  2. Newsweek reports: The Open Technology Initiative is working to “dictator-proof” the internet by providing radio stations and other groups in the Arab world with technology to prevent total communication collapse in the event of a nationwide internet shutoff. Amongst the strategies: Mesh networking a-la-One Laptop Per Child – a type of networking that allows many computers to wireless daisy chain to each other, thereby restoring communication within the country. If one machine on the network has an internet connection, it is possible to share that connection via the mesh network. (though speeds would probably get incredibly slow) Other US-based groups plan to send satellite link hardware to get the internet via satellite.

Moral of the story? Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. don’t topple regimes – people do. And when the people are made stronger through improved communication, their ability to cause change is also strengthened. “Keystroke Revolution” does not mean a revolution from a computer, but with a computer.

Plugging In: Egypt and Tunisia

by Mark Grinberg at Flash Drive Terrorism

UPDATE: Anonymous has taken out Egyptian government websites.

Well, first off, I’m back for another semester!

Facebook Screenshot

Photocredit: Newsweek

There is so much that went on in the world during break, but I’m glad I took a few weeks off. Now it’s time to keep providing my readers with interesting stories. I thought I’d start with one of the topics I have been asked about most frequently lately: the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

To start – I want to make this clear – these revolutions are not cyber terror. However, the use of technology in the coordination and logistics of these revolutions has labeled them the “Facebook Revolutions.” This article will focus on a clear, no-nonsense guide to understanding what is going on in these countries, with my personal opinions emerging in various areas. We’ll also get into some of the comparisons between the two revolutions and debate whether or not this is a trend, and predict where the next “domino” will fall.

Status Quo: Common Situations

 The status quo prior to the revolutions in both countries is quite similar. I’ve provided data from the United States for comparison:

    Leader Hosni Mubarak Zine el Abidine Ben Ali Barack Obama
    Rule Began 1981 1987 2009
    Leader’s Ascension to Power Bloodless Coup Previous Leader Assassinated Election
    Independence Achieved 1956 1952 1783
    Average Age 24 years 29.7 years 36.8 years
    GDP – per capita (PPP) $6,200 $9,500 $47,400
    Unemployment 9.7% 14% 9.6%

What comparisons can be drawn between major statistics in Egypt and Tunisia? Both are countries with very young populations, low per capita income, and high employment. The leaders in the countries have held their positions for a long period of time. Mubarak and Ben Ali are both known for squelching opposition as it arose throughout their respective leadership terms. Both countries’ situations were very similar pre-revolution, a fact which supports a “domino effect” theory of these “Facebook revolutions.” (Data taken from the CIA World Factbook)

Sparks of Revolution

Most revolutions, wars, or other violent, chaotic events begin with some kind of spark to ignite the flame. In Tunisia, a man named Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself aflame in front of a police headquarters in Sidi Bouzid. At the age of twenty six, he was protesting against the police, who had mistreated him only an hour earlier.  His self-immolation caused mass rioting and protest in the city, which became the beginnings of revolution. In Egypt, protests took place on January 25th in response to National Police Day, eventually breaking out into violence as police used tear gas on the protesters.

In both cases, information from the Wikileaks documents proved important. In Egypt, a leaked cable went into details regarding the use of police brutality and torture. In Tunisia, Wikileaks contained information regarding the rampant corruption in the government.

Protesters Charge Cellphones

Protesters Charge Cellphones, Photocredit: New York Times

Facebook Revolutions

These are being called Facebook revolutions because in both cases, social networking sites have been used to spread the revolution and organize the resistance. In Tunisia, protests following Bouazizi’s self-immolation were recorded on Youtube and shared via Facebook. Those looking to respond to police brutality in Egypt rallied around Khaled Mohamed Saeed, who, according to witnesses, was beaten by the police in June of 2010. However, the police reported that he died in attempt to swallow a packet of marijuana while the police were pursuing him. A Facebook page was created in honor of Khaled Saeed, providing organization and a rallying point for future anti-government protests. Protesters in both Egypt and Tunisia utilized the internet and social networking sites to organize their rallies and protests as the revolutions proceeded. In Tunisia, this resulted in Ben Ali fleeing the country. The result of protests in Egypt has yet to be seen, but the government has cut internet service to the population by forcing all Egyptian internet service providers to basically unplug themselves. If the citizens are organizing via Facebook and the internet, what better way to stop resistance then to turnoff the internet?

Circumventing the Outages

Photocredit: Gawker Media

In Egypt, many citizens have begun to circumventing internet outages in the country in order to continue organizing the revolution and getting the word out. How are they doing this? Continue reading “Plugging In: Egypt and Tunisia”