National Press Club

College president found herself in middle of Tahrir Square uprising

July 29, 2011 | By Peter Hickman |

Uniformed snipers broke into the American University in Cairo building and positioned themselves on the roof during the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, the school's chief administrator told a Newsmaker audience on July 25.

Protesters then forced their way in the building and tried to oust the snipers, according to Lisa Anderson, AUC president. Security personnel eventually took control of the situation, she said, adding that the university had never given government officers permission to enter the building.

Anderson's office overlooks Tahrir Square, the rallying point for the demonstrations in January and February that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In her presentation, she also discussed the "Arab Spring" disturbances across the Middle East and North Africa.

Anderson, who has held several senior academic positions at New York's Columbia University, said that one result of the turmoil in Egypt is that it established mechanisms that will keep the previously authoritarian government accountable to the people.

In Libya, she said, the anti-government revolt will not end "until Muammar Gaddhafi dies. He will not surrender. But I don't think he can regain control of the country."

However, she added, the opposition does not have a "common front. It is split into a thousand shards."