Study abroad students evacuated after protesting in Egypt

Six Butler University students studying with the Institute for Study Abroad are being evacuated from Alexandria, Egypt in light of protests that erupted Jan. 25.

The students arrived in Egypt Jan. 17. They were supposed to spend the spring semester studying Arabic language programs, but IFSA-Butler began planning the students’ evacuation on Sunday.

The protests started in Cairo’s Tahir Square, with citizens demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981.

The protesters were angry over the cost of living, failed economic policies and corruption.

Since the start of the riots, more than 100 people have been killed and at least 2,000 have been injured.

On Saturday, students were advised to stay indoors and avoid all public gatherings. While some small protests have taken place in Alexandria, the majority of protests are still occurring in Cairo, about an hour away from where the students’ residences are located.

The U.S. State Department issued a warning for American citizens as they travel abroad this weekend.

“Violent demonstrations have occurred in several areas of Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of the country, disrupting road travel between city centers and airports,” the release said. “Disruptions in communications, including internet service, may occur.

“U.S. citizens currently in Egypt should consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so.”
As of this morning, all six Butler students and six University of Wisconsin-Madison students were waiting to board a charter plane to Athens, Greece. The airport in Alexandria is secure and guarded by military officials, according to a press release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Flights out of the country were to begin today.

According the IFSA website, the decision to move the students out of Egypt was a difficult one to make.

“Though we felt that our students were safe in Alexandria, we cannot run a program at this time because the university is closed indefinitely until the political situation stabilizes,” the site said.

The students will be offered alternate program options located at “Southern-Hemisphere universities” so that students will be able to still earn a full semester of credit.