January 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized

Yale profs sign letter to Obama regarding Egypt

As protests against the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak continue in Egypt, three Yale professors joined over 150 academics in signing an open letter to President Barack Obama yesterday, calling on Obama to support Egypt’s democratic movement. The letter reads:

For thirty years, our government has spent billions of dollars to help build and sustain the system the Egyptian people are now trying to dismantle. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Egypt and around the world have spoken. We believe their message is bold and clear: Mubarak should resign from office and allow Egyptians to establish a new government free of his and his family’s influence. It is also clear to us that if you seek, as you said Friday ‘political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,’ your administration should publicly acknowledge those reforms will not be advanced by Mubarak or any of his adjutants.

The letter also asks Obama adopt a new approach favoring peace and democracy in the Middle East.

One of the signees, Ellen Lust, an associate professor of political science who has studied Egyptian politics, said it is important for the U.S. not to support Mubarak’s dictatorship.

“We have given enormous support for the Mubarak regime,” she said, which has fueled anti-Americanism since Mubarak’s policies are unpopular among Egyptians.

Another, Alan Mikhail, an assistant professor of history who researches Egypt during the Ottoman period, said he saw the letter as a “small gesture” academics could make, regardless of whether it sways Obama’s opinion.

“It seems like a small gesture that I as a historian could do, to show support for the people in Egypt who are protesting, and sometimes putting their lives on the line, for a better society and a better government,” Mikhail said. “Is [Obama] going to read it? I have no idea. He’s a very busy guy.”

The letter was signed by researchers, historians and political scientists from across America and abroad who have studied the Middle East. Lust, Mikhail, and assistant professor of anthropology Narges Erami signed from Yale.

UPDATE: February 1, 4:33 p.m.

Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Affairs Jonathan Wyrtzen also signed the letter.