Fulbright Scholar speaks on democracy, free will

Jennahway Huerta
Staff Writer

Naeema Ali Abdelgawad, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Mary Baldwin College, was the keynote speaker on March 25.

Students and faculty gathered in Morgan Auditorium to hear Abdelgawad’s lecture, “Democracy and Autocracy: Between Freedom and Chaos.”

“For long ages of not exercising free will, the Middle East will forget how they can exercise it,” Abdelgawad said. “As for their lives, they will be manipulated and abused by many people and they will find themselves just falling into a slave relationship.”

Abdelgawad also discussed democracy, autocracy, free will, technology and chaos in the Middle East.

Abdelgawad made an analogy about people around the world acting like sheep or cows. These “herd animals” just go along with their leaders’ decisions instead of exercising their rights.

“Herd animals mean they are deprived of any humanity,” Abdelgawad said.

She then explained how social media plays a role in democracy.

The Internet is a great outlet to reach out to people, spread information and more. The Internet can also be a double-edged sword; if the Internet is abused it could be considered evil, Abdelgawad said.

With the click of a button information is able to be sent instantly to the world. These social resources allow people to easily see what is going on throughout the world.

Recently in the news we have seen an uproar with Egypt and the chaos occurring, Abdelgawad said.
People used their Internet resources such as Facebook and YouTube to share the chaos.

A person can put a little seed out there and it can spread, she said. Abdelgawad also mentioned the misconceptions people have about Middle Easterners. Things people may hear about the Middle East may not always be true.

“The main message of what I said is that you should try to exercise your right no matter what,” Abdelgawad said.

Abdelgawad is an Egyptian scholar who has dedicated her published, post-doctoral scholarly articles to ethnic, comparative and gender studies.

She has also published many non-scholarly articles both in Arabic and English, in many magazine and newspapers. Abdelgawad is involved in many organizations such as the Egyptian Society for Comaparative Literature, the League of Arab Writers, the Modern Language Association and International Society for Comparative Literature.

“We have an ongoing relationship with the Fulbright people and we tend to invite one almost every year,” Gitty Amini, adviser of Model United Nations, said. “They are very fascinating figures and they tend to be from lots of interesting places. This year the list came out and I thought perfect, we will have an Egyptian scholar.”

“It was a really interesting experience,” said Kyle Griffith, junior political science major from Cal State University Stanislaus.

“Dr. Abdelgawad had a different viewpoint. It was interesting to hear her perspective on our world’s issues,” Nichol Delgado, sophomore political science major, said.

Jennahway Huerta can be reached at jennahway.huerta@laverne.edu.

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