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Dr. Mohammed el-Nawawy returns to Middle East for research

05/26/11 -  

Dr. Mohammed el-Nawawy witnessed history when he arrived in Cairo just as President Hosni Mubarak's regime was overthrown by the people.  When he returned to Queens the next week he brought back hours of video and notebooks full of stories about the people he met in Tahrir Square just after the government fell. 

"It was the most wonderful opportunity to be there and feel the Egyptian spirit rejunvenated," he said, of his trip.  "It was terrifying to watch but beautiful at the same time because it brought out the best of Egypt and the region. It showed people that their voice matters and positioned Egypt once again as a role model for change. Peaceful protests can work."

After speaking before students on campus and across the community at the invitation of civic and religious groups he shared his firsthand accounts with media across the globe, including the New York Times and CNN.  He also was a featured expert on the PBS NewsHour.  Most recently he was featured in Charlotte Magazine where he shared poignant moments from his trip including how the tension evaporated on the plane as the crew shared the news of Mubarak's resignation about an hour before the plane landed in Cairo.

"After a few hours of trying to get into Tahrir Square by taxi I finally arrived to find a remarkably organized social structure that the protestors had created," he remembers. "There was a division of labor that made this peaceful protest successful. There were corner tents for sleeping, a poet's post, doctors and pharmacists were making rounds. People were sharing news updates as best they could after the Internet was shut down. Thousands and thousands of people, and then millions had gathered spontaneously and just never left. Entire families, people of all ages, completely unified in purpose. It was beautiful to arrive to waves of celebration instead of heightened tensions and violence."

Long before the protests erupted on the streets of Cairo, el-Nawawy, who teaches in the Knight School of Communication, was already working on a major project, studying bloggers there and across the Middle East. He estimates that there are about 160,000 bloggers in Egypt, and several of those whom he interviewed were involved in the protests in Cairo.

In June he will return to the Middle East to continue his research during a temporary leave from Queens.

El-Nawawy, a native Egyptian, teaches international communication, mass communication, media globalization, and Middle East media courses in the Knight School.  His research interests are focused on the new media in the Middle East, particularly satellite channels and the Internet, and their impact on the Arab public sphere. He is also interested in issues of public diplomacy and ways of initiating effective dialogue between the Middle East and the West.

He is the author and co-author of several books, including "Islam dot Com: Contemporary Islamic Discourses in Cyberspace,"  "Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism," "Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East" and the "Israeli-Egyptian Peace Process in the Reporting of Western Journalists."  He has also published in several national and foreign journals in the international communication field. His work on Arab media in general, and Al-Jazeera in particular, has attracted the attention of the popular press inside and outside the United States.

He is the founding and senior editor of the Journal of Middle East Media and serves on the editorial boards of Media, War and Conflict journal and Global Media journal. He is also a board member on the Arab-U.S. Association for Communication Educators.

Finally he has professional journalistic experience in the United States and the Middle East.



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