The Tenth Course on Human Rights for Egyptian Universities Students

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Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies held the tenth course on human rights for the students universities and high institutes over the period from the 9th through the 25th of August 2003. Around 80 students participated in the course with different study backgrounds as it included students from the faculties of economics and political sciences and arts and law students, in addition to a group of the Arab students studying in Egypt.

The course was built on an integrated program of lectures given by 35 academics and officials working in the Egyptian and Arab human rights organizations. The lectures dealt with different themes such as the philosophical, moral and historical roots of human rights, a detailed review of the most important human rights international treaties and agreements, the role of the civil society organizations in defending human rights and propagandizing for its values, human rights in Islam and Christianity, the issues of women, the position of human rights in the Iraqi crisis, and human rights in the cinema, theatre and public culture.

The course also involved a group of field visits to the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt working in the field of human rights, in addition to analyzing a number of documentary films and documentaries on the issues of violence against women, FGM and the freedom of opinion and expression through presenting a documentary film for the trial the Sudanese intellectual “Mahmoud Mohamed Taha” who was accused of changing religionردة and was sentenced to death in 1985 by the Sudanese authorities.

For the second year, the idea of the groups of the workshops was developed to discuss a number of issues and human rights related topics on the periphery of the program of the course. These groups aim at giving the opportunity to express their opinions freely, developing their critical vision, training them on discussion and exchanging views within an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect in a time during which the real opportunities for developing an effective students&#146 contribution towards the public issues inside the Egyptian universities are almost absent either because of the floods of legal constraints and impediments sieging the students&#146 activities or because of the students&#146 drift away from them.

The participants were divided into seven groups upon their interests and some of the students who participated in the previous courses participated in organizing and directing dialogue inside the workshops which dealt with: human rights between universalism and specificity, Islam and human rights, discrimination against women, globalization and human rights, democracy and human rights, freedom of thought and expression, and special issues in human rights such as the Iraqi crisis and the status in Palestine and Sudan.

This educating course comes as part of the role performed by the Cairo Institute to publicize for the culture of human rights especially among the students and inside the universities. The absence of human rights basics from the educational courses in both the early stags of primary and secondary education reaching the university education left a very wide gap between the students and the culture of human rights. By the end of the course, a lot of the participants emphasized, as compared to their status prior to it, that they got a lot that was away from their area of interest previously such as the international human rights treaties and the mechanisms for developing and protecting human rights and the role of the NGOs.

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