Project # 5 Radio News Wrap

November 11, 2009 at 1:02 am (Projects) (, , , , , , , )

digital conference 2

An Israeli researcher was denied the participation in the Digital Culture conference held in Alexandria end of October. Photo courtesy: Ahmed Essmat (Amwag Sakandria)

digital culture conference

The Digital Culture conference held in Alexandria from October 27th till October 31st. Photo courtesy: Ahmed Esmat (Amwag Sakandria)

Alexandrian city in Egypt has hosted the “Digital Culture” conference for the first time. The subject matter might be new for a conference to be held in Egypt, but a stand against Israeli participation is not. Asmaa Al Zohairy has more on the story.

Israeli presence in any type of Arab conferences has always been an issue. The digital culture conference that was recently held in the Palais des Gourmets in Alexandria expressed its rejection to such presence. The conference’s secretariats have declined the request of an Israeli researcher to participate with her paper on digital literature.

Ahmed Shablool, the conference’s manager, says the conference has a clear stand on that matter.

Sound Byte (SB):
Shablool: of course we reject any kind of normalization with Israel at least at the time and that is the decision of all Egyptian writers and those who accept the normalization and go visit Israel are nailed down by the media.(:18)

Shablool said that to his surprise the researcher showed her understanding to the secretariat’s decision.

Similar stands against dealing with Israel on many levels are present in even one of the most liberal universities in Egypt, the American University in Cairo or (AUC). Over a year ago, rumor had it that there was an Israeli scholar participating in an academic conference that was held there. AUC denied such a premise.

Political science professor at the AUC, Ibrahim Elnur, says that the university looks at this issue differently.

Elnur: I think the university is not having a very strong stand but it does have a certain respect for the environment in which it is operating. (:10)

Elnur says that there is always this dichotomy between the public and official stands. This differs from time to time and depends on the events going on.

Elnur: In the post Oslo time, optimism was very high and normalization started to get some kind of understanding if not support but still among the intellectuals and educated people but it failed to and now we are back to almost to square one in terms of Israeli Arab relations. Then we have these terrible events in Gaza, which brought again the strong sentiment against any type of normalization. (:25)

He says there is also this hypocrisy about the issue as some scholars are not boycotting conferences taking place outside the region with Israeli participation, but they refuse such a thing to happen inside the region.

Elnur: this is the nature of populism as a policy as politics which is taking a stand that will support any of the majority irrespect of whether this majority is taking the rational thing or not so you don’t you want to be in the minority even if it is rational to be in the minority. (:20)

The stand of the Alexandrian conference secretariats is not the first in face of the normalization issue. Situations and events in the region will always dictate how Israeli-related issues would be dealt with.

This is Asmaa Al Zohairy for AUC Radio.

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