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Egypt is our ‘Berlin Wall moment’

Watch a video of students’ reactions to the situation unfolding in Egypt.

The revolution in Egypt has grasped the attention of world leaders and global citizens. That passion to explore and debate the issues facing the Middle Eastern nation is also evident at Northeastern University, where around 300 students,faculty, staff and others poured into a West Village conference room Thursday for a lecture on the developing situation abroad.

The wave of anti-government protests in Egypt, including peaceful demonstrations and violent clashes, have been brewing for years, notably since the country’s 2005 elections, said Denis Sullivan. He directs Northeastern’s International Affairs Program and the Middle East Center, which sponsored the event.

“Egypt and the Arab world will never be the same after today,” said Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, associate professor of history and associate director of Middle East studies, who joined Sullivan in leading the lecture. “This is truly monumental.”

Egypt’s historic moment has gripped the attention of Northeastern students from all walks of life, including those originally from the country. The event also exemplifies Northeastern’s global vision and commitment to engaging the top issues affecting nations and cultures throughout the world.

After providing historical context, Sullivan and Khuri-Makdisi — who have both led students on Dialogue of Civilizations programs to Egypt — fielded students’ questions ranging from the religious and economic impacts of the movement to the nation’s political future.

Stacy Fahrenthold, a doctoral student in history, teaches an introductory course in Middle Eastern history, and said many of her students attended the lecture.

“It’s kind of like when the Berlin Wall fell,” said Fahrenthold, referring to the situation in Egypt. “This is our Berlin Wall moment.”