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Posted on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 6 p.m.

Political unrest prompts evacuation of University of Michigan students studying in Egypt

By Kellie Woodhouse

Mideast Egypt_Wood.jpg

Egyptians wave a national flag as fireworks light the sky over Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi celebrate in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. A statement on the Egyptian president's office's Twitter account has quoted Mohammed Morsi as calling military measures "a full coup." The denouncement was posted shortly after the Egyptian military announced it was ousting Morsi, who was Egypt's first freely elected leader but drew ire with his Islamist leanings. The military says it has replaced him with the chief justice of the Supreme constitutional Court, called for early presidential election and suspended the Islamist-backed constitution.

AP Photo

At least 10 University of Michigan students studying abroad in Egypt will be evacuated from Cairo this week due to political unrest in the country.

Cairo is in upheaval Wednesday as the Egyptian military stages a coup, ousting Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president who took office a year ago.

Groups are protesting, rallying and celebrating throughout the country and university officials are worried about safety of the students.

“The safety of our students is always important,” James Holloway, U-M vice provost for global and engaged education, said in a statement. “No one wants their summer-abroad experience cut short, but the uncertainty of the situation in Cairo in the days ahead made this decision very clear for us.”

A group of eight students — seven undergraduates and one graduate student — were in the middle of a two-month cultural program offered through U-M's Center for Global and Intercultural Study held at American University's Cairo campus. Another two students are studying in Alexandria in a foreign language program run by the American Councils for International Education.

The students in Cairo will be taken to the airport Thursday and flown to another country and then rerouted to the United States. The students in the language program are scheduled to leave Friday for Meknes, Morocco, where the program has been moved for the remainder of the academic year.

Classes for the group in Cairo were canceled earlier this week and the students have been staying in a residence hall that is separated from protests in the Egyptian capital city, according to the school.

"There is now a very celebratory atmosphere," U-M student Nikhil Nandigam, who is studying in Alexandria with the Arabic Flagship Program, told MLive Wednesday. "People are hugging each other and cheering."

Three U-M students studying in Egypt already have been evacuated. The students are participating in Arabic language study with students from other universities and have moved with the program from Cairo to Amman, Jordan. That program is operated by American-Mideast Educational and Training Services, a leading nonprofit educational organization.

According to an MLive article, five Michigan State University students already have left the country due to the unrest.

One U-M doctoral student also is conducting field research in Egypt, not in Cairo, and one faculty member traveling in Egypt. U-M officials were in the process of contacting them Wednesday afternoon, according to U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Michigan Man

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Obama picks another loser over in Egypt - Props him up, sends him jets, bombs, copters + billions of US taxpayor $ and U of M is complicit and sends over students to study? Study what? Nobama policy on the the middle east, as evidence in Syria, Libia and now Egypt (only named a few) has no results, no accomplishments, no class and just a total mess - tens of thousands will now kill each other in Egypt just iike in Syria. Probably a wise idea to keep U of M students in Ann Arbor.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

Ohhh... I get it now, you're trolling on some pretty advanced levels there, my friend. Carry on, you're doing a great job parodying the "intellect" of greater Michigan.

Michigan Man

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Side - Why don't you run over to that fine country Egypt - see Arabs killing Arabs and then give an academic lecture about the mayhem, violence, senseless killing and lovely sectarian brutality you witnessed daily - Have fun! This is where a TV really comes in handy from the safety of my upper scale Barton Hills home.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Yes, let's never have students study in other countries, Learn foreign languages or experience other cultures, other than what they're shown on the teevee. Better to keep them all ignorant of anything outside the great state of Michigan!


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

Hmm, everybody knew it was unstable over there, yet they decided to go anyways.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

As I said, "Outside of Tahrir Square". Believe it or not, Egypt is larger than the 5 or so city blocks they show on TV. Until the past week things were pretty peaceful and operating like usual, by Egyptian standards anyway. Also, unlike here, schools and Universities are usually pretty cloistered away from the hub-bub of the rest of the city. And I don't think poor judgment came at all into play, if one is really serious about studying Arabic or archaeology, Egypt is an excellent place to pursue this and is host to a number of top programs. Also, as you can see in the article, many of the programs administrators are well aware of the political situation and have backup plans in place.


Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 11:04 a.m.

Either very brave or demonstrates poor judgement. Go figure!

5c0++ H4d13y

Thu, Jul 4, 2013 : 12:23 a.m.

Business as usual? Gang rape, the dark side of Egypt's protests


Wed, Jul 3, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

Instability is a relative term. Friends and colleagues of mine have traveled to Egypt both before and after Mubarak's ouster and they say that for the most part it's "business as usual" outside of Tahrir Square. And in the countryside one would not know anything had changed. The picture the media provides is pretty narrowly focused.